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All rights reserved 

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Two Copies Received 

NOV 20 1905 

Copyright Entry 
/ Urzs. Jia / q o £* 

/ 3 / w 7 


Copyright, 1905, 


Set up and electrotyped. Published 


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• • • 

Norbjoah $rts3 

J. S. Cushing & Co.-— Berwick & Smith Co. 
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A. 





The Beginning .... 





Peter’s Coal Mine . 



The Old Gentleman 



The Engine Burglar 



Prisoners and Captives. 



Saviours of the Train . 



For Valour .... 



The Amateur Firemen . 



The Pride of Perks 



The Terrible Secret 



The Hound in the Red Jersey 



What Bobbie brought Home 



The Hound’s Grandfather . 



The End 







They were not Tailway children to begin with. 
I don’t suppose they had ever thought about rail- 
ways except as means of getting to Maskelyne 
and Cooke’s, the Pantomime, Zoological Gardens, 
and Madame Tussaud’s. They were just ordinary 
suburban children, and they lived with their Father 
and Mother in an ordinary red-brick-fronted villa, 
with coloured glass in the front door, a tiled pas- 
sage that was called a hall, a bath-room with hot 
and cold water, electric bells, French windows, 
and a good deal of white paint, and “ every mod- 
ern convenience,” as the house-agents say. 

There were three of them. Roberta was the 
eldest. Of course, Mothers never have favourites, 
but if their Mother had had a favourite, it might 
have been Roberta. Next came Peter, who wished 
to be an Engineer when he grew up ; and the 
youngest was Phyllis, who meant extremely well. 




Mother did not spend all her time in paying 
dull calls to dull ladies, and sitting dully at home 
waiting for dull ladies to pay calls to her. She 
was almost always there, ready to play with the 
children, and read to them, and help them to do 
their home-lessons. Besides this she used to write 
stories for them while they were at school, and 
read them aloud after tea, and she always made 
up funny pieces of poetry for their birthdays and 
for other great occasions, such as the christening 
of the new kittens, or the refurnishing of the doll’s 
house, or the time when they were getting over 
the mumps. 

These three lucky children always had every- 
thing they needed : pretty clothes, good fires, a 
lovely nursery with heaps of toys, and a Mother 
Goose wall-paper. They had a kind and merry 
nurse-maid, and a dog who was called James, and 
who was their very very own. They also had 
a Father who was just perfect — never cross, never 
unjust, and always ready for a game — at least 
if at any time he was not ready, he always had an 
excellent reason for it, and explained the reason 
to the children so interestingly and funnily that 
they felt sure he couldn’t help himself. 

You will think that they ought to have been 



very happy. And so they were, but they did not 
know how happy till the pretty life in the Red 
Villa was over and done with, and they had to 
live a very different life indeed. 

The dreadful change came quite suddenly. 

Peter had a birthday — his tenth. Among his 
other presents was a model engine more perfect 
than you could ever have dreamed of. The other 
presents were full of charm, but the Engine was 
fuller of charm than any of the others were. 

Its charm lasted in its full perfection for ex- 
actly three days. Then, owing either to Peter’s 
inexperience or Phyllis’s good intentions, which 
had been rather pressing, or to some other cause, 
the Engine suddenly went off with a bang. James 
was so frightened that he went out and did not 
come back all day. All the Noah’s Ark people 
who were in the tender were broken to bits, but 
nothing else was hurt except the poor little engine 
and the feelings of Peter. The others said he cried 
over it, — but of course, boys of ten do not cry, 
however terrible the tragedies may be which 
darken their lot. He said that his eyes were red 
because he had a cold. This turned out to be 
true, though Peter did not know it was when 
he said it, and next day he had to go to bed and 



stay there. Mother began to be afraid that he 
might be sickening for measles, when suddenly 
he sat up in bed and said : — 

“ I hate gruel — I hate barley water — I hate 
bread and milk. I want to get up and have 
something real to eat.” 

“ What would you like ? ” Mother asked. 

“ A pigeon-pie,” said Peter, eagerly, “ a large 
pigeon-pie. A very large one.” 

So Mother asked the Cook to make a large 
pigeon-pie. The pie was made. And when the 
pie was made, it was cooked. And when it was 
cooked, Peter ate some of it. After that his 
cold was better. Mother made a piece of poetry 
to amuse him while the pie was being made. It 
began by saying what an unfortunate but worthy 
boy Peter was, and then it went on : — 

He had an engine that he loved 
With all his heart and sonl, 

And if he had a wish on earth 
It was to keep it whole. 

One day — my friends, prepare your minds ; 

Pm coming to the worst — 

Quite suddenly a screw went mad, 

And then the boiler burst ! 

With gloomy face he packed it up 
And took it to his Mother, 



Though even he could not suppose 
That she could make another ; 

For those who perished on the line 
He did not seem to care, 

His engine being more to him 
Than all the people there. 

And now you see the reason why 
Our Peter has been ill : 

He soothes his soul with pigeon-pie 
His gnawing grief to kill. 

He wraps himself in blankets warm 
And sleeps in bed till late, 

Determined thus to overcome 
His miserable fate. 

And if his eyes are rather red, 

His cold must just excuse it : 

Offer him pie ; you may be sure 
He never will refuse it. 

Father had been away in the country for three 
or four days. All Peter’s hopes for the curing of 
his afflicted Engine were now fixed on his Father, 
for Father was most wonderfully clever with his 
fingers. He could mend all sorts of things. He 
had often acted as veterinary surgeon to the 
wooden rocking-horse ; once he had saved its life 
when all human aid was despaired of, and the 
poor creature was given up for lost, and even 
the carpenter said he didn’t see his way to do 



anything. And it was Father who mended the 
doll’s cradle when no one else could ; and with a 
little glue and some bits of wood and a penknife 
made all the Noah’s Ark beasts as strong on their 
pins as ever they were, if not stronger. 

Peter with heroic unselfishness did not say any- 
thing about his Engine till after Father had had 
his dinner and his after-dinner cigar. The un- 
selfishness was Mother’s idea — but it was Peter 
who carried it out. And it needed a good deal 
of patience, too. 

At last Mother said to Father, “Now, dear, if 
you’re quite rested, and quite comfy, we want to 
tell you about the great railway accident, and ask 
your advice.” 

“ All right,” said Father, “ fire away ! ” 

So then Peter told the sad tale, and fetched 
what was left of the Engine. 

“ Hum,” said Father, when he had looked the 
Engine over very carefully. 

The children held their breaths. 

“ Is there no hope ? ” said Peter, in a low, un- 
steady voice. 

“Hope? Rather! Tons of it,” said Father, 
cheerfully; “ but it’ll want something besides hope, 
— a bit of brazing, say, or some solder, and a new 



valve. I think we’d better keep it for a rainy 
day. In other words, I’ll give up Saturday after- 
noon to it, and you shall all help me.” 

“ Can girls help to mend engines ? ” Peter asked 

“ Of course they can. Girls are just as clever 
as boys, and don’t you forget it ! How would you 
like to be an engine-driver, Phil ? ” 

“ My face would be always dirty, wouldn’t it ? ” 
said Phyllis, in unenthusiastic tones, “and I. expect 
I should break something.” 

“ I should just love it,” said Roberta, — “ do you 
think I could when I’m grown up, Daddy ? Or 
even a stoker ? ” 

“ You mean a fireman,” said Daddy, pulling and 
twisting at the Engine. “ Well, if you still wish it, 
when you’re grown up, we’ll see about making 
you a fire-woman. I remember when I was a 
boy — ” 

Just then there was a knock at the front 

“ Who on earth ! ” said Father. “ An English- 
man’s house is his castle, of course, but I do wish 
they built semi-detached villas with moats and 

Ruth — she was the parlour-maid and had red 



hair — came in and said that two gentlemen 
wanted to see the master. 

“Pve shewn them into the Library, Sir,” said 

“ I expect it’s the subscription to the Vicar’s 
testimonial,” said Mother, “ or else it’s the choir- 
holiday-fund. Get rid of him quickly, dear. It 
does break up an evening so, and it’s nearly the 
children’s bed-time.” 

But Father did not seem to be able to get rid of 
the gentlemen at all quickly. 

“ I wish we had got a moat and drawbridge,” 
said Roberta ; “ then when we didn’t want people, 
we could just pull up the drawbridge and no one 
could get in. I expect Father will have forgotten 
about when he was a boy if they stay much 

Mother tried to make the time pass by telling 
them a new fairy story about a Princess with 
green eyes, but it was difficult because they could 
hear the voices of Father and the gentlemen in the 
Library, and Father’s voice sounded louder and dif- 
ferent to the voice he generally used to people who 
came about testimonials and holiday funds. 

Then the Library bell rang, and every one heaved 
a breath of relief. 



“They’re going now,” said Phyllis; “he’s rung 
to have them shewn out.” 

But instead of shewing anybody out, Ruth 
shewed herself in, and she looked queer, the chil- 
dren thought. 

“ Please’m,” she said, “the Master wants you to 
just step into the study. He looks like the dead, 
mum ; I think he’s had bad news. You’d best 
prepare yourself for the worst, ’m — p’raps it’s a 
death in the family or a bank busted or — ” 

“ That’ll do, Ruth,” said Mother, gently ; “ you 
can go.” 

Then Mother went into the Library. There was 
more talking. Then the bell rang again, and Ruth 
fetched a cab. The children heard boots go out 
and down the steps. The cab drove away, and the 
front door shut. Then Mother came in. Her dear 
face was as white as her lace collar, and her eyes 
looked very big and shining. Her mouth looked 
like just a line of pale red — her lips were thin and 
not their proper shape at all. 

“ It’s bed-time,” she said. “ Ruth will put you 
to bed.” 

“ But you promised we should sit up late to-night 
because Father’s come home,” said Phyllis. 

“ Father’s been called away — on business,” said 
Mother. “ Come, darlings, go at once.” 



They kissed her and went. Roberta lingered to 
give Mother an extra hug and to whisper — 

“ It wasn’t bad news, Mammy, was it ? Is any 
one dead — or — ” 

“ Nobody’s dead — no,” said Mother, and she 
almost seemed to push Roberta away. “ I can’t 
tell you anything to-night, my pet. Go, dear, go 

So Roberta went. 

Ruth brushed the girls' hair and helped them to 
undress. (Mother almost always did this herself.) 
When she had turned down the gas and left them 
she found Peter, still dressed, waiting on the 

“ I say, Ruth, what’s up ? ” he asked. 

“ Don’t ask me no questions and I won’t tell 
you no lies,” the red-headed Ruth replied. “ You’ll 
know soon enough.” 

Late that night Mother came up and kissed all 
three children as they lay asleep. But Roberta 
was the only one whom the kiss woke, and she lay 
mousey-still, and said nothing. 

“ If Mother doesn’t want us to know she’s been 
crying,” she said to herself as she heard through 
the dark the catching of her Mother’s breath, “ we 
won’t know it. That’s all.” 



When they came down to breakfast the next 
morning, Mother had already gone out. 

“ To London,” Ruth said, and left them to their 

“ There’s something awful the matter,” said 
Peter, breaking his egg. “ Ruth told me last night 
we should know soon enough.” 

“ Did you ask her ? ” said Roberta, with scorn. 

“ Yes, I did ! ” said Peter, angrily. “ If you 
could go to bed without caring whether Mother 
was worried or not, I couldn’t. So there ! ” 

“ I don’t think we ought to ask the servants 
things Mother doesn’t tell us,” said Roberta. 

“ That’s right, Miss Goody-goody,” said Peter, 
“ preach away.” 

“/’m not goody,” said Phyllis, “but I think 
Bobbie’s right this time.” 

“ Of course. She always is. In her own opin- 
ion,” said Peter. 

« Oh, don't ! ” cried Roberta, putting down her 
eggspoon ; “ don’t let’s be horrid to each other. 
I’m sure some dire calamity is happening. Don’t 
let’s make it worse ! ” 

“Who began, I should like to know?” said 

Roberta made an effort, and answered : — 



“ I did, I suppose, but — ” 

“ Well, then,” said Peter, triumphantly. But 
before he went to school he thumped his sister 
between the shoulders and told her to cheer up. 

The children came home to one o’clock dinner, 
but Mother was not there. And she was not there 
at tea-time. 

It was nearly seven before she came in, looking 
so ill and tired that the children felt they could 
not ask her any questions. She sank into an arm- 
chair. Phyllis took the long pins out of her hat, 
while Roberta took off her gloves, and Peter un- 
fastened her walking-shoes and fetched her soft 
velvety slippers for her. 

When she had had a cup of tea, and Roberta 
had put eau-de-cologne on her poor head that 
ached, Mother said : — 

“Now, my darlings, I want to tell you some- 
thing. Those men last night did bring very bad 
news, and Father will be away for some time. I 
am very very worried about it, and I want you all 
to help me, and not to make things harder for 

“ As if we would ! ” said Roberta, holding 
Mother’s hand against her face. 

“ You can help me very much,” said Mother, 



“by being good and happy and not quarrelling 
when I’m away,” — Roberta and Peter exchanged 
guilty glances, — “ for I shall have to be away a 
good deal.” 

“We won’t quarrel. Indeed we won’t,” said 
everybody. And meant it, too. 

“ Then,” Mother went on, « I want you not to 
ask me any questions about this trouble ; and not 
to ask anybody else any questions.” 

Peter cringed and shuffled his boots on the 

“ You’ll promise this, too, won’t you ? ” said 

“ I did ask Ruth,” said Peter, suddenly. « I’m 
very sorry, but I did.” 

“ And what did she say ? ” 

“ She said I should know soon enough.” 

“ It isn’t necessary for you to know anything 
about it,” said Mother ; « it’s about business, and 
you never do understand business, do you ? ” 

“ No,” said Roberta, “ is it something to do with 
Government ? ” For Father was in a Government 

“Yes,” said Mother. “Now it’s bed-time, my 
darlings. And don’t you worry. It’ll all come 
right in the end.” 



“Then don’t you worry either, Mother,” said 
Phyllis, “ and we’ll all be as good as gold.” 

Mother sighed and kissed them. 

“We’ll begin being good the first thing to-morrow 
morning,” said Peter, as they went upstairs. 

“ Why not now ? ” said Roberta. 

“There’s nothing to be good about now, silly,” 
said Peter. 

“We might begin to try to feel good,” said 
Phyllis, “ and not call names.” 

“ Who’s calling names ? ” said Peter. “ Bobbie 
knows right enough that when I say ‘ silly,’ it’s 
just the same as if I said Bobbie.” 

“ Wellf said Roberta. 

“ No, I don’t mean what you mean. I mean it’s 
just a — what is it Father calls it? — a germ of 
endearment ! Good night.” 

The girls folded up their clothes with more 
than usual neatness — which was the only way 
of being good that they could think of. 

“ I say,” said Phyllis, smoothing out her 
pinafore, “you used to say it was so dull — nothing 
happening, like in books. Now something has 

• “ I never wanted things to happen to make 
Mother unhappy,” said Roberta. « Everything’s 
perfectly horrid.” 



Everything continued to be perfectly horrid 
for some weeks. 

Mother was nearly always out. Meals were 
dull and dirty. The between-maid was sent away, 
and Aunt Emma came on a visit. Aunt Emma 
was much older than Mother. She was going 
to Germany to be governess. She was very 
busy getting her clothes ready, and they were 
very ugly, dingy clothes, and she had them always 
littering about, and the sewing-machine seemed 
to whirr — on and on all day and most of the 
night. Aunt Emma believed in keeping children 
in their proper places. And they more than 
returned the compliment. Their idea of Aunt 
Emma’s proper place was anywhere where they 
were not. So they saw very little of her. They 
preferred the company of the servants, who were 
more amusing. Cook, if in a good temper, could 
sing comic songs, and the housemaid, if she 
happened not to be offended with you, could 
imitate a hen that has laid an egg, a bottle of 
champagne being opened, and could mew like 
two cats fighting. The servants never told the 
children what the bad new’s was that the gentle- 
men had brought to Father. But they kept 
hinting that they could tell a great deal if they 
chose — and this was not comfortable. 



One day when Peter had made a booby trap 
over the bath-room door, and it had acted 
beautifully as Ruth passed through, that red- 
haired parlour-maid caught him and boxed his 

“ You’ll come to a bad end,” she said furiously, 
“you nasty little limb, you ! If you don’t mend 
your ways, you’ll go where your precious Father’s 
gone, so I tell you straight ! ” 

Roberta repeated this to her Mother, and next 
day Ruth was sent away. 

Then came the time when Mother came home 
and went to bed and stayed there two days and 
the Doctor came, and the children crept wretchedly 
about the house and wondered if the world was 
coming to an end. 

Mother came down one morning to breakfast, 
very pale and with lines on her face that used 
not to be there. And she smiled, as well as she 
could, and said : — 

“ Now, my pets, everything is settled. We’re 
going to leave this house, and go and live in the 
country. Such a ducky dear little white house. 
I know you’ll love it.” 

A whirling week of packing followed — not 
just packing clothes, like when you go to the 


seaside, but packing chairs and tables, covering 
their tops with sacking and their legs with straw. 

All sorts of things were packed that you don’t 
pack when you go to the seaside. Crockery, 
blankets, candlesticks, carpets, bedsteads, sauce- 
pans, and even fenders and fire-irons. 

The house was like a furniture warehouse. I 
think the children enjoyed it very much. Mother 
was very busy, but not too busy now to talk to 
them, and read to them, and even to make a bit 
of poetry for Phyllis to cheer her up when she 
fell down with a screwdriver and ran it into her 

“ Aren’t you going to pack .this, Mother ? ” 
Roberta asked, pointing to the beautiful cabinet 
inlaid with red turtleshell and brass. 

“We can’t take everything,” said Mother. 

“ But we seem to be taking all the ugly things,” 
said Roberta. 

“ We’re taking the useful ones,” said Mother ; 
“ we’ve got to play at being Poor for a bit, my 

When all the ugly useful things had been packed 
up and taken away in a van by men in green-baize 
aprons, the two girls and Mother and Aunt Emma 
slept in the two spare rooms where the furniture 



was all pretty. All their beds had gone. A bed 
was made up for Peter on the drawing-room sofa. 

“ I say, this is larks,” he said, wriggling joyously 
as Mother tucked him up. “ I do like moving ! I 
wish we moved once a month.” 

Mother laughed. 

“ I don’t ! ” she said. “ Good night, Peterkin.” 

As she turned away Roberta saw her face. She 
never forgot it. 

“ Oh, Mother,” she whispered all to herself as 
she got into bed, “ how brave you are ! How I 
love you ! Fancy being brave enough to laugh 
when you’re feeling like that ! ” 

Next day boxes were filled, and boxes and more 
boxes ; and then late in the afternoon a cab came 
to take them to the station. 

Aunt Emma saw them off. They felt that they 
were seeing her off, and they were glad of it. 

“ But, oh, those poor little German children that 
she’s going to governess ! ” whispered Phyllis. “ I 
wouldn’t be them for anything ! ” 

At first they enjoyed looking out of the window, 
but when it grew dark they grew sleepier and 
sleepier, and no one knew how long they had been 
in the train when they were roused by Mother’s 
shaking them gently and saying ; — 



“ Wake up, dears. We’re there.” 

They woke up, cold and melancholy, and stood 
shivering on the draughty platform while the lug- 
gage was taken out of the train. Then the engine, 
puffing and blowing, set to work again, and 
dragged the train away. The children watched 
the tail-lights of the guard’s van disappear into the 

This was the first train the children saw on that 
railway which was in time to become so very dear 
to them. They did not guess then how they 
would grow to love the railway, and how soon it 
would become the centre of their new life, nor 
what wonders and changes it would bring to them. 
They only shivered and sneezed and hoped the 
walk to the new house would not be long. Peter’s 
nose was colder than he ever remembered it to have 
been before. Roberta’s hat was crooked, and the 
elastic seemed tighter than usual. Phyllis’s shoe- 
laces had come undone. 

“ Come,” said Mother, “ we’ve got to walk. 
There aren’t any cabs here.” 

The walk was dark and muddy. The children 
stumbled a little on the rough road, and once 
Phyllis absently fell into a puddle, and was picked 
up damp and unhappy. There were no gas-lamps 



on the road, and the road was up-hill. The cart 
went at a foot’s pace, and they followed the gritty 
crunch of its wheels. As their eyes got used to 
the darkness, they could see the mound of boxes 
swaying dimly in front of them. 

A long gate had to be opened for the cart to pass 
through, and after that the road seemed to go 
across fields, — and now it went down hill. Pres- 
ently a great dark lumpish thing shewed over to 
the right. 

“ There’s the house,” said Mother. “ I wonder 
why she’s shut the shutters.” 

“ Who’s she f ” asked Roberta. 

“ The woman I engaged to clean the place, and 
put the furniture straight and get supper.” 

There was a low wall, and trees inside. 

“That’s the garden,” said Mother. 

“ It looks more like a dripping-pan full of black 
cabbages,” said Peter. 

The cart went on along by the garden wall, 
and round to the back of the house, and here it 
clattered into a cobble-stoned yard and stopped 
at the back door. 

There was no light in any of the windows. 

Every one hammered at the door, but no one 




The man who drove the cart said he expected 
Mrs. Viney had gone home. 

“You see your train was that late,” said 

“ But she’s got the key,” said Mother. “ What 
are we to do ? ” 

“ Oh, she’ll have left that under the doorstep,” 
said the cart man ; “ folks do hereabouts.” He 
took the lantern off his cart and stooped. 

“ Ay, here it is, right enough,” he said. 

He unlocked the door and went in and set his 
lantern on the table. 

“ Got e’er a candle ? ” said he. 

“ I don’t know where anything is.” Mother 
spoke rather less cheerfully than usual. 

He struck a match. There was a candle on the 
table, and he lighted it. By its thin little glimmer 
the children saw a large bare kitchen with a stone 
floor. There were no curtains, no hearth-rug. 
The kitchen table from home stood in the middle 
of the room. The chairs were in one corner, and 
the pots, pans, brooms, and crockery in another. 
There was no fire, and the black grate showed 
cold, dead ashes. 

As the cart man turned to go out and after he 
had brought in the boxes, there was a rustling, 



scampering sound that seemed to come from inside 
the walls of the house. 

“ Oh, what’s that ? ” cried the girls. 

“ It’s only the rats,” said the cart man. And he 
went away and shut the door, and the sudden 
draught of it blew out the candle. 

“ O dear,” said Phyllis, “ I wish we hadn’t 
come ! ” and she knocked a chair over. 

“ Only the rats ! ” said Peter, in the dark. 


peter’s coal-mine 

“What fun!” said Mother, in the dark, feeling 
for the matches on the table. “How frightened 
the poor mice were — I don’t believe they were 
rats at all.” 

She struck a match and relighted the candle, 
and every one looked at each other by its winky, 
blinky light. 

“Well,” she said, “you’ve often wanted some- 
thing to happen, and now it has. This is quite 
an adventure, isn’t it ? I told Mrs. Viney to get us 
some bread and butter, and meat things, and to 
have supper ready. I suppose she’s laid it in the 
dining room. So let’s go and see.” 

The dining room opened out of the kitchen. It 
looked much darker than the kitchen when they 
went in with the one candle. Because the kitchen 
was whitewashed, but the dining room was dark 
wood from floor to ceiling, and across the ceiling 
there were heavy black beams. There was a mud- 
dled maze of dusty furniture — the breakfast-room 




furniture from the old home where they had lived 
all their lives. It seemed a very long time ago, 
and a very long way off. 

There was the table certainly, and there were 
chairs, but there was no supper. 

“ Let’s look in the other rooms,” said Mother ; 
and they looked. And in each room was the same 
kind of blundering half-arrangement of furniture, 
and fire-irons and crockery, and all sorts of odd 
things on the floor, but there was nothing to eat ; 
and even in the pantry there was only a rusty 
game-tin and a broken plate with whitening mixed 
in it. 

“ What a horrid old woman ! ” said Mother ; 
“she’s just walked off with the money and not got 
us anything to eat at all.” 

“ Then shan’t we have any supper at all ? ” asked 
Phyllis, dismayed, stepping back on to a soap-dish 
that cracked responsively. 

“Oh, yes,” said Mother, “only it’ll mean un- 
packing one of those big cases that we put in the 
cellar. Phil, do mind where you’re walking to, 
there’s a dear. Peter, hold the light.” 

The cellar door opened out of the kitchen. 
There were five wooden steps leading down. It 
wasn’t a proper cellar at all, the children thought, 



because its ceiling went up as high as the kitchen’s. 
A bacon-rack hung under its ceiling. There was 
wood in it, and coal. Also the big cases. 

Peter held the candle, all on one side, while 
Mother tried to open the great packing-case. It 
was very securely nailed down. 

“ Where’s the hammer ? ” asked Peter. 

“ That’s just it,” said Mother. “ Pm afraid it’s 
inside the box. But there’s a coal-shovel — and 
there’s the kitchen poker.” 

And with these she tried to get the case open. 

“ Let me do it,” said Peter, thinking he could do 
it better himself. Every one thinks this when he 
sees another person stirring a fire, or opening a 
box, or untying a knot in a bit of string. 

“ You’ll hurt your hands, Mammy,” said Roberta ; 
“ let me.” 

“ I wish Father was here,” said Phyllis ; “ he’d 
get it open in two shakes. What are you kicking 
me for, Bobbie ? ” 

“I wasn’t,” said Roberta. 

Just then the first of the long nails in the pack- 
ing case began to come out with a scrunch. Then 
a lath was raised and then another, till all four 
stood up with the long nails in them shining 
fiercely like iron teeth in the candle-light. 



“ Hooray ! ” said Mother ; “ here are some candles 
— the very first thing! You girls go and light 
them. You’ll find some saucers and things. Just 
drop a little candle-grease in the saucer and stick 
the candle upright in it.” 

“ How many shall we light ? ” 

“ As many as ever you like,” said Mother, gaily. 
“ The great thing is to be cheerful. Nobody can 
be cheerful in the dark except owls and dormice.” 

So the girls lighted candles. The head of the first 
match flew off and stuck to Phyllis’s finger; but, 
as Roberta said, it was only a little burn, and she 
might have had to be a Roman martyr and be 
burned whole if she had happened to live in the 
days when those things were fashiouable. 

Then when the dining room was lighted by 
fourteen candles, Roberta fetched coal and wood, 
and lighted a fire. 

“ It’s very cold for May,” she said, feeling what a 
grown-up thing it was to say. 

The fire-light and the candle-light made the 
dining room look very different, for now you 
could see that the dark walls were of wood 
carved here and there into little wreaths and 

The girls hastily “tidied” the room, which 



meant putting the chairs against the wall, and 
piling all the odds and ends into a corner and 
partly hiding them with the big leather arm-chair 
that Father used to sit in after dinner. 

“ Bravo ! ” cried Mother, coming in with a tray 
full of things. “ This is something like ! I’ll just 
get a table-cloth and then — ” 

The table-cloth was in a box with a proper lock 
that was opened with a key and not with a shovel, 
and when the cloth was spread on the table, a real 
feast was laid out on it. 

Every one was very very tired, but every one 
cheered up at the sight of the funny and delightful 
supper. There were biscuits, the Marie and the 
plain kind, sardines, preserved ginger, cooking 
raisins, and candied peel and marmalade. 

“ What a good thing Aunt Emma packed up all 
the odds and ends out of the Store cupboard,” said 
Mother. “Now, Phil, don’t put the marmalade 
spoon in among the sardines.” 

“ No, I won’t, Mother,” said Phyllis, and put it 
down among the Marie biscuits. 

“Let’s drink Aunt Emma’s health,” said Ro- 
berta, suddenly; “what should we have done if 
she hadn’t packed up these things? Here’s to 
Aunt Emma ! ” 



And the toast was drunk in ginger wine and 
water, out of willow-patterned tea-cups, because 
the glasses couldn’t be found. 

They all felt that they had been a little hard on 
Aunt Emma. She wasn’t a nice cuddly person 
like Mother, but after all it was she who had 
thought of packing up the odds and ends of 
things to eat. 

It was Aunt Emma, too, who had aired all the 
sheets ready ; and the men who had moved the 
furniture had put the bedsteads together, so 
the beds were soon made. 

“ Good night, chickies,” said Mother. “ I’m sure 
there aren’t any rats. But I’ll leave my door 
open, and then if a mouse comes, you need only 
scream, and I’ll come and tell it exactly what I 
think of it.” 

Then she went to her own room. Roberta 
woke to hear the little travelling clock chime 
two. It sounded like a church clock ever so far 
away, she always thought. And she heard, too, 
Mother still moving about in her room. 

Next morning Roberta woke Phyllis by pulling 
her hair gently, but quite enough for her purpose. 

“ Wassermarrer ? ” asked Phyllis, still almost 
wholly asleep. 



“ Wake up ! wake up ! ” said Roberta. “ We’re 
in the new house — don’t you remember? No 
servants or anything. Let’s get up and begin to 
be useful. We’ll just creep down mouse-quietly, 
and have everything beautiful before Mother gets 
up. I’ve woke Peter. He’ll be dressed as soon 
as we are.” 

So they dressed quietly and quickly. Of course 
there was no water in their room, so when they 
got down they washed as much as they thought 
was necessary under the spout of the pump in the 
yard. One pumped and the other washed. It 
was splashy but interesting. 

“ It’s much more fun than basiny washing,” 
said Roberta. “ How sparkly the weeds are 
between the stones, and the moss on the roof — 
oh, and the flowers ! ” 

The roof of the back kitchen sloped down quite 
low. It was made of thatch and it had moss on 
it, and house-leeks and stone crop and wall-flowers, 
and even a clump of purple flag-flowers, at the far 

“ This is far far farandaway prettier than 
Edgecombe Villa,” said Phyllis. “ I wonder what 
the garden’s like.” 

“We mustn’t think of the garden yet,” said 



Roberta, with earnest energy. “ Let’s go in and 
begin to work.” 

They lighted the fire and put the kettle on, and 
they arranged the crockery for breakfast; they 
could not find all the right things, but a glass 
ash-tray made an excellent salt-cellar, and a newish 
baking-tin seemed as if it would do to put bread 
on, if they had any. 

When there seemed to be nothing more that 
they could do, they went out again into the fresh 
bright morning. 

“ We’ll go into the garden now,” said Peter. 
But somehow they couldn’t find the garden. 
They went round the house and round the house. 
The yard occupied the back, and across it were 
stables and outbuildings. On the other three 
sides the house stood simply in a field, without 
a yard of garden to divide it from the short 
smooth turf. And yet they had certainly seen 
the garden wall the night before. 

It was a hilly country. Down below they could 
see the line of the railway, and the black yawn- 
ing mouth of a tunnel. The station was out of 
sight. There was a great bridge with tall arches 
running across one end of the valley. 

“ Never mind the garden,” said Peter ; “ let’s 



go down and look at the railway. There might 
be trains passing.” 

“ We can see them from here,” said Roberta, 
slowly ; “ let’s sit down a bit.” 

So they all sat down on a great flat gray stone 
that had pushed itself up out of the grass ; it 
was one of many that lay about on the hillside, 
and when mother came out to look for them at 
eight o’clock, she found them deeply asleep in a 
contented sun-warmed bunch. 

They had made an excellent fire, and had set 
the kettle on it at about half-past five. So that 
by eight the fire had been out for some time, 
the water had all boiled away, and the bottom 
was burned out of the kettle. Also they had 
not thought of washing the crockery before they 
set the table. 

“ But it doesn’t matter — the cups and saucers, 
I mean,” said Mother. “ Because I’ve found 
another room — I’d quite forgotten there was 
one. And it’s magic ! And I’ve boiled the water 
for tea in a saucepan.” 

The forgotten room opened out of the kitchen. 
In the agitation and half darkness the night before 
its door had been mistaken for a cupboard’s. It 
was a little square room, and on its table, all 



nicely set out, was a joint of cold roast beef, with 
bread, butter, cheese, and a pie. 

“ Pie for breakfast ! ” cried Peter ; “ how per- 
fectly ripping ! ” 

“ It isn’t pigeon-pie,” said Mother ; “ it’s only 
apple. Well, this is the supper we ought to have 
had last night. And there was a note from Mrs. 
Viney. Her son-in-law has broken his arm, and 
she had to get home early. She’s coming this 
morning at ten.” 

That was a wonderful breakfast. It is unusual 
to begin the day with cold apple pie, but the 
children all said they would rather have it than 

“You see it’s more like dinner than breakfast 
to us,” said Peter, passing his plate for more, 
“because we were up so early.” 

The day passed in helping Mother to unpack 
and arrange things. Six small legs quite ached 
with running about while their owners carried 
clothes and crockery and all sorts of things to 
their proper places. It was not till quite late 
in the afternoon that Mother said : — 

“ There ! That’ll do for to-day. I’ll lie down 
for an hour, so as to be as fresh as a lark by 



Then they all looked at each other. Each of 
the three expressive countenances expressed the 
same thought. That thought was double, and 
consisted, like the bits of information in the 
Child’s Guide to Knowledge, of a question, and 
an answer. 

Q. Where shall we go ? 

A. To the railway. 

So to the railway they went, and as soon as 
they started for the railway they saw where the 
garden had hidden itself. It was right behind 
the stables, and it had a high wall all round. 

“ Oh, never mind about the garden now ! ” cried 
Peter. “ Mother told me this morning where 
it was. It’ll keep till to-morrow. Let’s get to 
the railway.” 

The way to the railway was all down hill, 
over smooth, short turf with here and there furze 
bushes and gray and yellow rocks sticking out 
like candied peal out of the top of a cake. 

The way ended in a steep run and a wooden 
fence, — and there was the railway with the 
shining metals and the telegraph wires and posts 
and signals. 

They all climbed on to the top of the fence, and 
then suddenly there was a rumbling sound that 



made them look along the line to the right, where 
the dark mouth of a tunnel opened itself in the 
face of a rocky cliff; next moment a train had 
rushed out of the tunnel with a shriek and a snort, 
and had slid noisily past them. They felt the rush 
of its passing, and the pebbles on the line jumped 
and rattled under it as it went by. 

“ Oh ! ” said Roberta, drawing a long breath ; 
“ it was like a great dragon tearing by. Did you 
feel it fan us with its hot wings ? ” 

“ I suppose a dragon’s lair might look very like 
that tunnel from the outside,” said Phyllis. 

But Peter said : — 

“ I never thought we should ever get as near to a 
train as this. It’s the most ripping sport ! ” 

“ Better than toy-engines, isn’t it ? ” said 

(I am tired of calling Roberta by her name. I 
don’t see why I should. No one else did. Every 
one else called her Bobbie, and I don’t see why I 

“ I don’t know ; it’s different,” said Peter. “ It 
seems so odd to see all of a train. It’s awfully 
tall, isn’t it ? ” 

“ We’ve always seen them cut in half by plat- 
forms,” said Phyllis. 



“ I wonder if that train was going to London,” 
Bobbie said. “ London’s where father is.” 

“Let’s go down to the station and find out,” 
said Peter. 

So they went. 

They walked along the edge of the line, and 
heard the telegraph wires humming over their 
heads. When you are in the train, it seems such a 
little way between post and post, and one after 
another the posts seem to catch up the wires 
almost more quickly than you can count them. 
But when you have to walk, the posts seem few 
and far between. 

But the children got to the station at last. 

Never before had any of them been at a station, 
except for the purpose of catching trains, — or per- 
haps waiting for them, — and always with grown- 
ups in attendance, grown-ups who were not 
themselves interested in stations, except as places 
from which they wished to get away. 

Never before had they passed close enough to a 
signal box to be able to notice the wires, and to 
hear the mysterious “ ping ping,” followed by the 
strong firm clicking of machinery. 

The very sleepers on which the rails lay were 
a delightful path to travel by — just far enough 



apart to serve as the stepping stones in a game of 
foaming torrents hastily organised by Bobbie. 

Then to arrive at the station, not through the 
booking office, but in a freebooting sort of way by 
the sloping end of the platform. This in itself was 


Joy, too, it was to peep into the porter’s room, 
where the lamps are, and the Railway almanac 
on the wall, and one porter half asleep behind 
Lloyd’s Weekly News. 

There were a great many crossing lines at the 
station ; some of them just ran into a yard and 
stopped short, as though they were tired of busi- 
ness and meant to retire for good. Trucks stood on 
the rails here, and on one side was a great heap of 
coal — not a loose heap, such as you see in your 
coal cellar, but a sort of solid building of coals, 
with large square blocks of coal outside used just 
as though they were brick, and built up till the 
heap looked like the picture of the Cities of the 
Plain in “ Bible Stories for Infants.” There was 
a line of whitewash near the top of the coaly 

When, presently, the porter lounged out of his 
room at the twice-repeated tingling thrill of a 
gong over the station door, Peter said, “ How do 



you do ? ” in his best manner, and hastened to 
ask what the white mark was on the coal 

“ To mark how much coal there be,” said the 
Porter, “so as we’ll know if any one nicks it. 
So don’t you go off with none in your pockets, 
young gentleman ! ” 

This seemed, at the time, but a merry jest, 
and Peter felt at once that the porter was a 
friendly sort, with no nonsense about him. But 
later the words came back to Peter with a new 

Have you ever gone into a farm-house kitchen 
on a baking day, and seen the great crock of 
dough set by the fire to rise ? If you have, and 
if you were at that time still young enough to 
be interested in everything you saw, you will 
remember that you found yourself quite unable 
to resist the temptation to poke your finger into 
the soft round of dough that curved inside the 
pan like a giant mushroom. And you will re- 
member that your finger made a dent in the 
dough, and that slowly, but quite surely, the 
dent disappeared, and the dough looked quite 
the same as it did before you touched it. Un- 
less, of course, your hand was extra dirty, in 



which case, of course, there would be a little 
black mark. 

Well, it was just like that with the sorrow 
the children had felt at Father’s going away, and 
at Mother’s being so unhappy. It made a deep 
impression, but the impression did not last long. 

They soon got used to being without Father, 
though they did not forget him, and they got 
used to not going to school, and to seeing very 
little of Mother, who was now almost all day 
locked up in her upstairs room waiting, writing, 
writing. She used to come down at tea-time 
and read aloud the stories she had written. 
They were lovely stories. 

The rocks and hills and valleys and trees, 
the canal, and above all, the railway, were so 
new and so perfectly pleasing that the remem- 
brance of the old life in the villa grew to seem 
almost like a dream. 

Mother had told them more than once that 
they were “ quite poor l^ow,” but this did not 
seem to be anything but a way of speaking. 
Grown-up people, even Mothers, often make re- 
marks that don’t seem to mean anything in par- 
ticular, just for the sake of saying something, 
seemingly. There was always enough to eat, and 



they wore the same kind of nice clothes they 
had always worn. 

But in June came three wet days; the rain 
came down, straight as lances, and it was very 
very cold. Nobody could go out, and everybody 
shivered. They all went up to the door of 
Mother’s room and knocked. 

“Well, what is it?” asked Mother from in- 

“ Mother,” said Bobbie, “ mayn’t I light a fire ? 
I do know how.” 

And Mother said : “No, my ducky -love. We 
mustn’t have fires in June — coal is so dear. 
If you’re cold, go and have a good romp in the 
attic. That’ll warm you.” 

“ But, Mother, it only takes such a very little 
coal to make a fire.” 

“ It’s more than we can afford, chickeny-love,” 
said Mother, cheerfully. “Now run away, there’s 
darlings — I’m madly busy ! ” 

“Mother’s always busy now,” said Phyllis, in 
a whisper to Peter. Peter did not answer. He 
shrugged his shoulders. He was thinking. 

Thought, however, could not long keep itself 
from the suitable furnishing of a bandit’s lair in 
the attic. Peter was the bandit, of course. 



Bobbie was his lieutenant, his band of trusty 
robbers, and, in due course, the parent of Phyllis, 
who was the captured maiden for whom a mag- 
nificent ransom — in horse-beans — was unhesi- 
tatingly paid. 

They all went down to tea flushed and joyous 
as any mountain brigands. 

But when Phyllis was going to add jam to her 
bread and butter, Mother said : — 

“ Jam or butter, dear — not jam and butter. 
We can’t afford that sort of reckless luxury 

Phyllis finished the slice of bread and butter in 
silence, and followed it up by bread and jam. 
Peter mingled weak tea and thought. 

After tea they went back to the attic and he 
said to his sisters: — 

“ I have an idea.” 

“ What’s that ? ” they asked politely. 

“ I shan’t tell you,” was Peter’s unexpected 

“ Oh, very well,” said Bobbie ; and Phil said, 
“ Don’t, then.” 

“Girls,” said Peter, “are always so hasty 

“ I should like to know what boys are,” said 



Bobbie, with fine disdain. “ I don’t want to know 
about your silly ideas.” 

“ You’ll know some day,” said Peter, keeping 
his own temper by what looked exactly like a 
miracle ; “ if you hadn’t been so keen on a row, I 
might have told you about it, being only noble- 
heartedness that made me not tell you my idea. 
But now I shan’t tell you anything at all about it 
— so there ! ” 

And it was, indeed, some time before he could 
be induced to say anything, and when he did it 
wasn’t much. He said : — 

“ The only reason why I won’t tell you my idea 
that I’m going to do is because it may be wrong, 
and I don’t want to drag you into it.” 

“ Don’t you do it if it’s wrong, Peter,” said 
Bobbie ; “ let me do it.” But Phyllis said : * — 

“I should like to do wrong if you're going to ! ” 

“ No,” said Peter, rather touched by this devo- 
tion ; “ it’s a forlorn hope, and I’m going to lead 
it. All I ask is that if Mother asks where I am, 
you won’t blab.” 

“We haven’t got anything to blab,” said Bobbie, 

“ Oh, yes, you have ! ” said Peter, dropping horse- 
beans through his fingers. “ I’ve trusted you to 



the death. You know Pm going to do a lone ad- 
venture — and some people might think it wrong 
— I don’t. And if Mother asks where I am, say 
I’m playing at mines.” 

“ What sort of mines ? ” 

“ You just say mines.” 

“ You might tell us , Pete.” 

“Well, then, c^Z-mines. But don’t you let the 
word pass your lips on pain of torture.” 

“ You needn’t threaten,” said Bobbie, “and I do 
think you might let us help.” 

“ If I find a coal-mine, you shall help cart the 
coal,” Peter condescended to promise. 

“ Keep your secret if you like,” said Phyllis. 

“ Keep it if you can ,” said Bobbie. 

“ I’ll keep it, right enough,” said Peter. 

Between tea and supper there is an interval even 
in the most greedily regulated families. At this 
time Mother was usually writing, and Mrs. Viney 
had gone home. 

Two nights after the dawning of Peter’s idea he 
beckoned the girls mysteriously at the twilight 

“ Come hither with me,” he said, « and bring 
the Roman Chariot.” 

The Roman Chariot was a very old perambula- 



tor that had spent years of retirement in the loft 
over the coach-house. The children had oiled its 
works till it glided noiseless as a pneumatic bi- 
cycle, and answered to the helm as it had probably 
never done in its best days. 

“ Follow your dauntless leader,” said Peter, and 
led the way down the hill towards the station. 

Just above the station many rocks have pushed 
their heads out through the turf as though they, 
like the children, were interested in the railway. 

In a little hollow between three rocks lay a heap 
of dried brambles and heather. 

Peter halted, turned over the brushwood with a 
well-scarred boot, and said : — 

“ Here’s the first coal from the St. Peter’s Mine. 
We’ll take it home in the chariot. Punctuality 
and despatch. All orders carefully attended to. 
Any shaped lump cut to suit regular customers.” 

The chariot was packed full of coal. And when 
it was packed it had to be unpacked again because 
it was so heavy that it couldn’t be got up the hill 
by the three children, not even when Peter har- 
nessed himself to the handle with his braces, and 
firmly grasping his waistband in one hand pulled 
while the girls pushed behind. 

Three journeys had to be made before the coal 



from Peter’s mine was added to the heap of 
Mother’s coal in the cellar. 

Afterwards Peter went out alone, and came 
back very black and mysterious. 

“ I’ve been to my coal-mine,” he said ; “ to- 

morrow evening we’ll bring home the golden dia- 
monds in the chariot.” 

It was a week later that Mrs. Viney remarked 
to Mother how well this last lot of coal was hold- 
ing out. 

The children hugged themselves and each other 
in complicated wriggles of silent laughter as they 
listened on the stairs. They had all forgotten by 
now that there had ever been any doubt in Peter’s 
mind as to whether coal-mining was wrong. 

But there came a dreadful night when the Sta- 
tion Master put on a pair of old sand shoes that he 
had worn at the seaside in his summer holiday, 
and crept out very quietly to the yard where the 
Sodom and Gomorrha heap of coal was, with the 
whitewashed line round it. He crept out there, 
and he waited like a cat by a mousehole. On 
the top of the heap something small and dark 
was scrabbling and rattling furtively among the 

The Station Master concealed himself in the 



shadow of a brake-van that had a little tin chim- 
ney and was labelled : — 

G. N. E. & S. R. 


Return at once to 
White Heather Sidings 

and in this concealment he lurked till the small 
thing on the top of the heap ceased to scrabble and 
rattle, came to the edge of the heap, cautiously let 
itself down, and lifted something after it. Then 
the arm of the Station Master was raised, the hand 
of the Station Master fell on a collar, and there 
was Peter held firmly by the jacket, with an old 
carpenter’s bag full of coal in his trembling clutch. 

“ So I’ve caught you at last, have I, you young 
thief ? ” said the Station Master. 

“ Pm not a thief,” said Peter, as firmly as he 
could. “ I’m a coal-miner.” 

“Tell that to the Marines,” said the Station 

“ It would be just as true whoever I told it 
to,” said Peter. 

“ You’re right there,” said the man, who held 
him. “ Stow your jaw, you young rip, and come 
along to the station.” 

“Oh, no,” cried in the darkness an agonized 
voice that was not Peter’s. 



“ Not the police station ! ” said another voice 
from the darkness. 

“ Not yet,” said the Station Master. “ The Rail- 
way Station first. Why, it’s a regular gang. 
Any more of you ? ” 

“ Only us,” said Bobbie and Phyllis, coming out 
of the shadow of another truck labelled Staveley 
Colliery, and bearing on it the legend in white 
chalk, “ Wanted in No. 1 Road.” 

“ What do you mean by spying on a fellow like 
this ? ” said Peter, angrily. 

“Time some one did spy on you, / think,” said 
the Station Master. “ Come along to the station.” 

“ Oh, don’t ! ” said Bobbie. “ Can’t you decide 
now what you’ll do to us ? It’s our fault just as 
much as Peter’s. We helped to carry the coal 
away — and we knew where he got it.” 

“ No, you didn’t,” said Peter. 

“ Yes, we did,” said Bobbie. “We knew all the 
time. We only pretended we didn’t just to humour 

Peter’s cup was full. He had mined for coal, 
he had struck coal, he had been caught, and now 
he learned that his sisters had “ humoured ” him. 

“ Don’t hold me ! ” he said. “ I won’t run 



The Station Master loosed Peter’s collar, struck 
a match, and looked at them by its flickering 

“ Why,” said he, “ you’re the children from the 
Three Chimneys up yonder. So nicely dressed, 
too. Tell me now, what made you do such a 
thing ? Haven’t you ever been to church or 
learned your catechisms or anything, not to know 
it’s wicked to steal ? ” He spoke much more 
gently now, and Peter said : — 

“ I didn’t think it was stealing. I was almost 
sure it wasn’t. I thought if I took it from the 
outside part of the heap, perhaps it would be. But 
in the middle I thought I could fairly count it 
only mining. It’ll take thousands of years for 
you to burn up all that coal and get to the 
middle parts.” 

“Not quite. But did you do it for a lark or 
what ? ” 

“ Not much lark carting that beastly heavy stuff 
up the hill,” said Peter, indignantly. 

“ Then why did you ? ” The Station Master’s 
voice was so much kinder now that Peter 
replied : — 

“ You know that wet day ? Well, Mother said 
we were too poor to have a fire. We always 



had fires when it was cold at our other house, 
and — ” 

“ Don't ! ” interrupted Bobbie, in a whisper. 

“Well,” said the Station Master, rubbing his 
chin thoughtfully. “I’ll tell you what I’ll do. 
I’ll look over it this once. But you remember, 
young gentleman, stealing is stealing, and what’s 
mine isn’t yours, whether you call it mining or 
whether you don’t. Run along home.” 

“ Do you mean you aren’t going to do anything 
to us? Well, you are a brick,” said Peter, with 

“You’re a dear,” said Bobbie. 

“You’re a darling,” said Phyllis. 

“ That’s all right,” said the Station Master. 

And on this they parted. 

“ Don’t speak to me,” said Peter, as the three 
went up the hill. “ You’re spies and traitors, — 
that’s what you are.” 

But the girls were too glad to have Peter be- 
tween them, safe and free, and on the way to 
Three Chimneys and not to the Police Station to 
mind much what he said. 

“We did say it was us as much as you,” said 
Bobbie, gently. 

“ Well — and it wasn’t.” 



“ It would have come to the same thing in 
Courts with judges,” said Phyllis. “ Don’t be 
snarky, Peter. It isn’t our fault your secrets are 
so jolly easy to find out.” She took his arm, and 
he let her. 

“ There’s an awful lot of coal in the cellar, any- 
how,” he went on. 

“ Oh, don’t ! ” said Bobbie. “ I don’t think we 
ought to be glad about that” 

“I don’t know,” said Peter, plucking up spirit. 
“ I’m not at all sure, even now, that mining is a 

But the girls were quite sure. And they were 
also quite sure that he was quite sure, however 
little he cared to own it. 



After the adventure of Peter’s Coal-Mine, it 
seemed well to the children to keep away from 
the station, — but they did not, they could not, 
keep away from the railway. They had lived all 
their lives in a street where cabs and omnibuses 
rumbled by at all hours, and the carts of butchers 
and bakers and candlestick makers (I never saw a 
candlestick-maker’s cart ; did you ?) might occur 
at any moment. Here in the deep silence of the 
sleeping country the only things that went by were 
the trains. They seemed to be all that was left to 
link the children to the old life that had once been 
theirs. Straight down the hill in front of Three 
Chimneys the daily passage of their six feet began 
to mark a path across the crisp, short turf. They 
began to know the hours when certain trains 
passed, and they gave names to them. The 9.15 
up was called the Green Dragon. The 10.7 down 
was the Worm of Wantley. The midnight town 
express, whose shrieking rush they sometimes woke 




from their dreams to hear, was the Fearsome Fly- 
by-night. Peter got up once, in chill starshine, 
and peeking at it through his curtain named it on 
the spot. 

It was by the Green Dragon that the old gentle- 
man travelled. He was a very nice-looking old 
gentleman, and he looked as if he were nice, too, 
which is not at all the same thing. He had a 
fresh-coloured, clean-shaven face, and white hair, 
and he wore rather odd-shaped collars and a top- 
hat that wasn’t exactly the same kind as other 
people’s. Of course the children didn’t see all this 
at first. In fact the first thing they noticed about 
the old gentleman was his hand. 

It was one morning as they sat on the fence 
waiting for the Green Dragon, which was three and 
a quarter minutes late by Peter’s Waterbury watch 
that he had had given him on his last birthday. 

“ The Green Dragon’s going where Father is,” 
said Phyllis ; “ if it were a really real dragon, 
we could stop it and ask it to take our love to 

“ Dragons don’t carry people’s love,” said Peter ; 
“ they’d be above it.” 

“Yes, they do, if you tame them thoroughly 
first. They fetch and carry like pet spaniels,” 



said Phyllis, “and feed out of your hand. I won- 
der why Father never writes to us.” 

“ Mother says he’s been too busy,” said Bobbie ; 
“ but he’ll write soon, she says.” 

“ I say,” Phyllis suggested, “ let’s all wave to the 
Green Dragon as it goes by. If it’s a magic 
dragon, it’ll understand and take our loves to 
Father. And if it isn’t, three waves aren’t much. 
We shall never miss them.” 

So when the Green Dragon tore shrieking out of 
the mouth of its dark lair, which was the tunnel, 
all three children stood on the railing and waved 
their pocket handkerchiefs without stopping to 
think whether they were clean handkerchiefs or 
the reverse. They were, as a matter of fact, very 
much the reverse. 

And out of a first-class carriage a hand waved 
back. A quite clean hand. It held a news- 

After this it became the custom for waves to be 
exchanged between the children and the 9.15. 

And the children, especially the girls, liked to 
think that perhaps the old gentleman knew Father, 
and would meet him “ in business ” wherever that 
shady retreat might he, and tell him how his three 
children stood on a rail far away in the green 



country and waved their love to him every morn- 
ing, wet or fine. 

For they were now able to go out in all sorts 
of weathers such as they would never have been 
allowed to go out in when they lived in their 
villa house. This was Aunt Emma’s doing, and 
the children felt more and more that they 
had not been quite fair to this unattractive aunt, 
when they found how useful were the long 
gaiters and waterproof coats that they had laughed 
at her for buying for them. 

Mother, all this time, was very busy with her 
writing. She used to send off a good many long 
blue envelopes with stories in them, — and large 
envelopes of different sizes and colours used to 
come to her. Sometimes she would sigh when 
she opened them and say : — 

“ Another story come home to roost. O dear, 
O dear ! ” and then the children would be very 

But sometimes she would wave the envelope 
in the air and say : — 

“ Hooray, hooray. Here’s a sensible Editor. 
He’s taken my story and this is the proof of it.’’ 

At first the children thought “the Proof” meant 
the letter the sensible Editor had written, but 



they presently got to know that the proof was 
long slips of paper with the story printed on them. 

Whenever an Editor was sensible, there were 
buns for tea. 

One day Peter was going down to the village 
to get buns to celebrate the sensibleness of the 
Editor of the Children's Globe , when he met the 
Station Master. 

Peter felt very uncomfortable, for he had now 
had time to think over the affair of the coal-mine. 
He did not like to say “Good morning” to the 
Station Master, as you usually do to any one 
you meet on a lonely country road, because he 
had a hot feeling, which spread even to his ears, 
that the Station Master might not care to speak 
to a person who had stolen coals. “ Stolen ” is 
a nasty word, but Peter felt it was the right one. 
So he looked down, and said Nothing. 

It was the Station Master who said, “ Good 
morning,” as he passed by. And Peter answered, 
“ Good morning.” Then he thought. 

“Perhaps he doesn’t know who I am by day. 
light, or he wouldn’t be so polite.” 

And he did not like the feeling which thinking 
this gave him. And then before he knew what 
he was going to do he ran after the Station 



Master, who stopped when he heard Peter’s hasty 
boots crunching the road, and coming up with 
him very breathless and with his ears now quite 
magenta-coloured, he said : — 

“ I don’t want you to be polite to me if you 
don’t know me when you see me.” 

“ Eh ? ” said the Station Master. 

“ I thought perhaps you didn’t know it was me 
that took the coals,” Peter went on, “when you said, 
‘Good morning.’ But it was, and Pm sorry. There.” 

“ Why,” said the Station Master, “ I wasn’t 
thinking anything at all about the precious coals. 
Let bygones be bygones. And where were you 
off to in such a hurry ? ” 

“ Pm going to buy buns for tea,” said Peter. 

“ I thought you were all so poor,” said the 
Station Master. 

“ So we are,” said Peter, confidentially, “ but 
we always have three pennyworth of halfpennies 
for tea whenever Mother sells a story or a poem 
or anything.” 

“ Oh,” said the Station Master, “-so your Mother 
writes stories, does she ? ” 

“ The beautifullest jmu ever,” said Peter. 

“You ought to be very proud to have such a 
clever Mother.” 



“Yes,” said Peter, “but she used to play with 
us more before she had to be so clever.” 

“ Well,” said the Station Master, “ I must be 
getting along. You give us a look in at the Station 
whenever you feel so inclined. And as to coals, it’s 
a word that — well — oh, no, we won’t mention it, 

“ Thank you,” said Peter. “ I’m very glad it’s 
all straightened out between us.” And he went 
on across the canal bridge to the village to get the 
buns, feeling more comfortable in his inside mind 
than he had felt since the hand of the Station 
Master had fastened on his collar that night among 
the coals. 

Next day when they had sent the threefold 
wave of greeting to Father by the Green Dragon, 
and the old gentlemen had waved back as usual, 
Peter proudly led the way to the station. 

“ But ought we ? ” said Bobbie. 

“ After the coals, she means,” Phyllis explained. 

“I met the Station Master yesterday,” said 
Peter, in an olf-hand way, and he pretended not to 
hear what Phyllis had said ; “ he expresspecially 
invited us to go down any time we liked.” 

“ After the coals ? ” repeated Phyllis. “ Stop a 
minute — my bootlace is undone again.” 



“ It always is undone again,” said Peter, “ and 
the Station Master was more of a gentleman than 
you’ll ever be, Phil — throwing coals at a chap’s 
head like that.” 

Phyllis did up her bootlace and went on in 
silence, but her shoulders shook, and presently a 
fat tear fell off her nose and splashed on the metal 
of the railway line. Bobby saw it. 

“ Why, what’s the matter, darling ? ” she said, 
stopping short and putting her arm round the 
heaving shoulders. 

“ He called me un — un — ungentlemanly,” 
sobbed Phyllis. “ I didn’t never call him unlady- 
like, not even when he tied my Clorinda to the fire- 
wood bundle and burned her at the stake for a 

Peter had indeed perpetrated this outrage a year 
or two before. 

“ Well, you began, you know,” said Bobby, hon- 
estly, “ about coals and all that. Don’t you think 
you’d better both unsay everything since the w T ave, 
and let honour be satisfied ? ” 

“ I will if Peter will,” said Phyllis, sniffling. 

“ All right,” said Peter ; “ honour is satisfied. 
Here, use my hankie, Phil, for goodness sake, if 
you’ve lost yours as usual. I wonder what you do 
with them.” 



“ You had my last one,” said Phyllis, indignantly, 
“ to tie up the rabbit-hutch door with. But you’re 
very ungrateful. It’s quite right what it says in 
the poetry book about sharper than a serpent it is 
to have a toothless child, — but it means ungrate- 
ful when it says toothless. Miss Lowe told me 

“ All right,” said Peter, impatiently, “ I’m sorry. 
There ! Now will you come on ? ” 

They reached the station and spent a joyous two 
hours with the Porter. He was a worthy man and 
seemed never tired of answering questions that 
began with “ Why — ” which many people in 
higher ranks of life often seem weary of. 

He told them many things that they had not 
known before, — as for instance that the things that 
hook carriages together are called couplings, and 
that the pipes like great serpents that hang over 
the couplings are meant to stop the train with. 

“ If you could get a holt of one o’ them when 
the train is going and pull ’em apart,” said he, 
“ she’d stop dead off with a jerk.” 

“ Who’s she ? ” said Phyllis. 

“ The train, of course,” said the Porter. After 
that the train was never again “ It ” to the children. 

“ And you know the thing in the carriages where 



it says on it, ‘Five pounds fine for improper use.’ 
If you was to improperly use that, the train ’ud 

“ And if you used it properly ? ” said Roberta. 

“ It ’ud stop just the same, I suppose,” said he, 
“ but it isn’t proper use unless you’re being mur- 
dered. There was an old lady once — some one 
kidded her on it was a refreshment-room bell, and 
she used it improper, not being in danger of her 
life, though hungry, and when the train stopped 
and the guard came along expecting to find some 
one weltering in their last moments, she says, 6 Oh, 
please, Mister, I’ll take a glass of stout and a bath 
bun,’ she says. And the train was seven minutes 
behind her time as it was.” 

“ What did the guard say to the old lady ? ” 

“ I dunno,” replied the Porter, “ but I lay she 
didn’t forget it in a hurry, whatever it was.” 

In such delightful conversation the time went 
by all too quickly. 

The Station Master came out once or twice from 
that sacred inner temple behind the place w T here 
the hole is that they sell you tickets through, and 
was most jolly with them all. 

“Just as if coal had never been discovered,” 
Phyllis whispered to her sister. 



He gave them each an orange, and promised to 
take them up into the signal-box one of these days 
when he wasn’t so busy. 

Several trains went through the station, and 
Peter noticed for the first time that engines have 
numbers on them, like cabs. 

“ Yes,” said the Porter, « I knowed a young gent 
as used to take down the numbers of every single 
one he seed, in a green note-book with silver cor- 
ners it was, owing to his Father being very well to 
do in the wholesale stationary.” 

Peter felt that he could take down numbers, 
too, even if he was not the son of a wholesale 
stationer. As he did not happen to have a green 
leather note-book with silver corners, the Porter 
gave him a yellow envelope and on it he noted : — 

and felt that this was the beginning of what would 
be a most interesting collection. 

That night at tea he #sked Mother if she had a 
green leather note-book with silver corners. She 
had not ; but when she heard what he wanted it 
for she gave him a little black one. 

“ It has a few pages torn out,” said she ; “but it 
will hold quite a lot of numbers, and when it’s full 



I’ll give you another. I’m so glad you like the 
railway. Only, please, you mustn’t walk on the 

“ Not if we face the way the train’s coming ? ” 
asked Peter, after a gloomy pause, in which glances 
of despair were exchanged. 

“ No — really not,” said Mother. 

Then Phyllis said, “ Mother, didn’t you ever walk 
on the railway lines when you were little ? ” 

Mother was an honest and honourable Mother, 
so she had to say, “ Yes.” 

“Well, then,” said Phyllis. 

“ But, darlings, you don’t know how fond I am 
of you. What should I do if you got hurt ? ” 

“ Are you fonder of us than Granny was of you 
when you were little ? ” Phyllis asked. Bobbie 
made signs to her to stop, but Phyllis never did 
see signs, no matter how plain they might be. 

Mother did not answer for a minute. She got 
up to put more water in the teapot. 

“No one,” she said at last, “ ever loved any one 
more than my Mother loved me.” 

Then she was quiet again, and Roberta kicked 
Phyllis hard under the table, because Roberta 
understood a little bit the thoughts that were mak- 
ing Mother so quiet — the thoughts of the time 



when Mother was a little girl and was all the world 
to her Mother. It seems so easy and natural to run 
to Mother when one is in trouble. Bobbie under- 
stood a little how people do not leave off running 
to their Mothers when they are in trouble even 
when they are grown up, and she thought she 
knew a little what it must be to be sad, and have 
no Mother to run to any more. 

So she kicked Phyllis who said : — 

“ What are you kicking me like that for, Bob ? ” 

And then Mother laughed a little and sighed and 
said : — 

“Very well, then. Only let me be sure you do 
know which way the trains come — and don’t walk 
on the line near the tunnel or near corners.” 

“Trains keep to the left like carriages,” said 
Peter, « so if we keep to the right, we’re bound to 
see them coming.” 

“Very well,” said Mother, and I dare say you 
think that she ought not to have said it. But she 
remembered about when she was a little girl her- 
self, and she did say it, — and neither her own 
children nor you nor any other children in the 
world could ever understand exactly what it cost 
her to do it. Only some few of you, like Bobbie, 
may understand a very little bit. 



It was the very next day that Mother had to 
stay in bed because her head ached so. Her hands 
were burning hot, and she would not eat anything, 
and her throat was very sore. 

“ If I was you, Mum,” said Mrs. Viney, “ I should 
take and send for the doctor. There’s a lot of 
catchy complaints a-going about just now. My 
sister’s eldest — she took a chill and it went to her 
inside, two year ago come Christmas, and she’s 
never been the same gell since.” 

Mother wouldn’t at first, but in the evening she 
felt so much worse that Peter was sent to the 
house in the village that had three laburnum trees 
by the gate, and on the gate a brass plate with 
W. W. Forrest, M.D., on it. 

W. W. Forrest, M.D., came at once. He talked 
to Peter on the way back. He seemed a most 
charming and sensible man, interested in railways, 
and rabbits, and really important things. 

When he had seen Mother, he said it was in 

“ Now, Lady Grave-airs,” he said in the hall to 
Roberta. “ I suppose you’ll want to be head 

“ Of course,” said she. 

“Well, then, I’ll send down some medicine. 



Keep up a good fire. Have some strong beef tea 
made ready to give her as soon as the fever goes 
down. She can have grapes now, and Brand’s 
Beef Essence — and soda water and milk, and 
you’d better get in a bottle of brandy. The best 
brandy. Cheap brandy is worse than poison.” 

She asked him to write it all down, and he 

When Bobbie shewed Mother the list he had 
written, Mother laughed. It was a laugh, Bobbie 
decided, though it was rather odd and feeble. 

“ Nonsense,” said Mother, lying in bed with eyes 
as bright as beads, “ I can’t afford all that rubbish. 
Tell Mrs. Viney to boil two pounds of Scrag end 
of the neck for your dinners to-morrow, and I can 
have some of the broth. Yes, I should like some 
more water now, love. And will you get a basin 
and sponge my hands ? ” 

Roberta obeyed. When she had done everything 
she could to make Mother less uncomfortable, she 
went down to the others. Her cheeks were very 
red, her lips set tight, and her eyes almost as 
bright as Mother’s. 

She told them what the Doctor had said, and 
what Mother had said. 

“And now,” said she, when she had told all, 



“ there’s no one but us to do anything, and we’ve 
got to do it. I’ve got the shilling for the mutton.” 

“ We can do without the beastly mutton,” said 
Peter ; “ bread and butter will support life. Peo- 
ple have lived on less on desert islands many a 

“ Of course,” said his sister. And Mrs. Viney 
was sent to the village to get as much brandy and 
soda water and beef for beef tea as she could buy 
for a shilling. 

“ But even if we never have anything to eat 
at all,” said Phyllis, “ you can’t get all those other 
things with our dinner money.” 

“ No,” said Roberta, frowning, « we must find 
out some other way. Now think, everybody, just 
as hard as ever you can.” 

They did think. And presently they talked. 
And later, when Bobbie had gone up to sit with 
Mother in case she wanted anything, the other 
two were very busy with scissors and a white 
sheet, and a paint brush, and the pot of Bruns- 
wick black that Mrs. Viney used for grates and 
fenders. They did not manage to do what they 
wished, exactly, with the first sheet, so they took 
another out of the linen cupboard. It did not 
occur to them that they were spoiling good sheets 



which cost good money. They only knew that 
they were making a good — but what they were 
making comes later. 

Bobbie’s bed had been moved into Mother’s 
room, and several times in the night she got up 
to mend the fire, and to give her Mother milk and 
soda water. Mother talked to herself a good deal, 
but it did not seem to mean anything. And once 
she woke up suddenly and called out, “ Mamma, 
mamma ! ” and Bobbie knew she was calling for 
Granny, and that she had forgotten that it was 
no use calling, because Granny was dead. 

In the early morning Bobbie heard her name 
and jumped out of bed and ran to Mother’s 

“Oh — ah, yes — I think I was asleep,” said 
Mother. “ My poor little duck, how tired you’ll 
be — I do hate to give you all this trouble.” 

“ Trouble ! ” said Bobbie. 

“ Ah, don’t cry, sweet,” Mother said ; “ I shall 
be all right in a day or two.” 

And Bobbie said, “ Yes,” and tried to smile. 

When you are used to ten hours of solid sleep, 
to get up three or four times in your sleep-time 
makes you feel as though you had been up all 
night. Bobbie felt quite stupid and her eyes were 



sore and stiff, but she tidied the room, and 
arranged everything neatly before the doctor 

This was at half-past eight. 

“ Everything going on all right, little Nurse ? ” 
he said at the front door. “ Did you get the 
brandy ? ” 

“ I’ve got the brandy,” said Bobbie, “ in a little 
flat bottle.” 

“ I didn’t see the grapes or the Brand’s Essence, 
though,” said he. 

“ No,” said Bobbie, firmly, “ but you will to- 
morrow. And there’s some beef stewing in the 
oven for beef tea.” 

“Who told you to do that?” he asked. 

“ I noticed what Mother did when Phil had 

“ Right,” said the doctor. “ Now you get your 
old woman to sit with your Mother, and then 
you eat a good breakfast, and go straight to bed 
and sleep till dinner-time. We can’t afford to 
have the head nurse ill.” 

He was really quite a nice doctor. 

When the 9.15 came out of the tunnel that 
morning the old gentleman in the first-class car- 
riage put down his newspaper, and got ready to 



wave his hand to the three children on the fence. 
But this morning there were not three. There 
was only one. And that was Peter. 

Peter was not on the railings either, as usual. 
He was standing in front of them in an attitude 
like that of a showman showing off the animals in 
a menagerie, or of the kind clergyman when he 
points with a wand at the “ Scenes from Palestine,’ 5 
when there is a magic lantern and he is explaining 

Peter was pointing, too. And what he was 
pointing at was a large white sheet nailed against 
the fence. On the sheet there were thick black 
letters more than a foot long. 

Some of them had run a little, because of Phyllis 
having put the Brunswick black on too eagerly, 
but the words were quite easy to read. 

And this was what the old gentleman and 
several other people in the train read in the large 
black letters on the white sheet : — 


A good many people did look out at the station 
and were disappointed, for they saw nothing un- 
usual. The old gentleman looked out, too, and at 
first he too saw nothing more unusual than the 



gravelled platform and the sunshine and the wall- 
flowers and forget-me-nots in the station borders. 
It was only just as the train was beginning to puff 
and pull itself together to start again that he saw 
Phyllis. She was quite out of breath with running. 

“ Oh,” she said, “ I thought I’d missed you. 
My bootlaces would keep coming down and I fell 
over them twice. Here, take it.” 

She thrust a warm dampish letter into his hand 
as the train moved. 

He leaned back in his corner and opened the 
letter. This is what he read : — 

“ Dear Mr. We do not know your name. 

“ Mother is ill and the doctor says to give her 
the things at the end of the letter but she says she 
can’t aford it and to get mutton for us and she will 
have the broth. We don’t know anybody here 
but you because Father is away and we don’t 
know the address. Father will pay you, or if he 
has lost all his money, or anything, Peter will pay 
you when he is a man. We promise it on our 
honer. I. O. U. for all the things Mother wants 

“ sined Peter. 

“Will you give the parsel to the Station Mas- 
ter, because of us not knowing what train you 



come down by. Say it is for Peter that was sorry 
about the coals and he will know all right. 

“ Roberta. 

“ Phyllis. 

“ Peter.” 

Then came the list of things the doctor had 

The old gentleman read it through once, and his 
eyebrows went up. He read it twice and smiled 
a little. When he had read it thrice, he put it in 
his pocket and went on reading the Times. 

At about six that evening there was a knock at 
the back door. The three children rushed to open 
it, and there stood the friendly Porter, who had 
told them so many interesting things about rail- 
ways. He dumped down a big hamper on the 
kitchen flags. 

“ Old gent,” he said ; “ he asked me to fetch it 
up straight away.” 

“ Thank you very much,” said Peter, and then, 
as the Porter lingered, he added : — 

“ Pm most awfully sorry I haven’t got twopence 
to give you like Father does, but — ” 

“ You drop it if you please, Sir,” said the Porter, 
indignantly. “ I wasn’t thinking about no tup- 
pences. I only wanted to say I was sorry your 



Mamma wasn’t so well, and to ask how she 
finds herself this evening, — and I’ve fetched her 
along a bit of sweetbrier, very sweet to smell 
it is. Twopence indeed,” said he, and produced 
a bunch of sweetbrier from his hat, “ just like 
a conjurer,” as Phyllis remarked afterwards. 

“ Thank you very much,” said Peter, “ and I 
beg your pardon about the twopence.” 

“No offence,” said the porter, untruly, but po- 
litely, and went. 

Then the children undid the hamper. First 
there was straw, and then there were fine shavings, 
and then came all the things they had asked for, 
and plenty of them, and then a good many things 
they had not asked for ; among others peaches and 
port wine and two chickens, a cardboard box of 
big red roses with long stalks, and a tall thin green 
bottle of lavender water, and three smaller fatter 
bottles of eau-de-Cologne. There was a letter, too. 

“ Dear Roberta and Phyllis and Peter,” it said ; 
“here are the things you want. Your mother will 
want to know where they came from. Tell her 
they were sent by a friend who heard she was ill. 
When she is well again you must tell her all about 
it, of course. And if she says you ought not to 
have asked for the things, tell her that I say you 



were quite right, and that I hope she will forgive 
me for taking the liberty of allowing myself a very 
great pleasure.” 

The letter was signed G. P. something that the 
children couldn’t read. 

“ I think we were right,” said Phyllis. 

“ Right ? Of course we were right,” said 

“ All the same,” said Peter, with his hands in his 
pockets, “I don’t exactly look forward to telling 
Mother the whole truth about it.” 

“ We’re not to do it till she’s well,” said Bobbie, 
“ and when she’s well we shall be so happy we 
shan’t mind a little fuss like that. Oh, just look 
at the roses ! I must take them up to her.” 

“ And the sweetbrier,” said Phyllis, sniffing it 
loudly ; “ don’t forget the sweetbrier.” 

“ As if I should ! ” said Roberta. “ Mother told 
me the other day there was a thick hedge of it in 
her Mother’s house when she was a little girl.” 



What was left of the second sheet and the 
Brunswick black came in very nicely to make a 
banner bearing the legend 


and this was displayed to the Green Dragon about 
a fortnight after the arrival of the wonderful 
hamper. The old gentleman saw it, and waved a 
cheerful response from the train. And when this 
had been done every one saw that now was the 
time when they must tell Mother what they had 
done when she was ill. And it did not seem 
nearty so easy as they had thought it would be. 
But it had to be done. And it was done. Mother 
was extremely angry. She was very seldom 
angry, and now she was angrier than they had ever 
known her. This was horrible. But it was much 
worse when she suddenly began to cry. Crying is 
catching, I believe, like measles and whooping 
cough. At any rate, every one at once found itself 
taking part in a crying party. 




Mother stopped first. She dried her eyes and 
then she said : — 

“ I’m sorry I was so angry, darlings, because I 
know you didn’t understand.” 

“We * didn’t mean to be naughty, Mammy,” 
sobbed Bobbie, and Peter and Phyllis sniffed. 

“ Now, listen,” said Mother ; “ it’s quite true 
that we’re poor, but we have enough to live on. 
You mustn’t go telling every one about our affairs 
— it’s not right. And you must never, never, 
never ask strangers to give you things. Now 
always remember that — won’t you ? ” 

They all hugged her and rubbed their damp 
cheeks against hers and promised that they would. 

“ And I’ll write a letter to your old gentleman, 
and I shall tell him that I didn’t approve — oh, of 
course I shall thank him, too, for his kindness. It’s 
you I don’t approve of, my darlings, not the old 
gentleman. He was as kind as ever he could be. 
And you can give the letter to the Station Master 
to give him, — and we won’t say any more about 

Afterward when the children were alone, Bobbie 
said : — 

“ Isn’t Mother splendid ? You catch any other 
grown-up saying it was sorry it had been angry.” 



“ Yes,” said Peter, “ she is splendid ; but it’s 
rather awful when she’s angry.” 

“ She’s like Avenging and Bright in the song,” 
said Phyllis. “ I should like to look at her if it 
wasn’t so awful. She looks so beautiful when 
she’s really downright furious.” 

They took the letter down to the Station Master. 

“ I thought you said you hadn’t got any friends 
except in London,” said he. 

“ We’ve made him since,” said Peter. 

“ But he doesn’t live hereabouts ? ” 

“ No — we just know him on the railway.” 

Then the Station Master retired to that sacred 
inner temple behind the little window where the 
tickets are sold, and the children went down to the 
Porter’s room and talked to the Porter. They 
learned several interesting things from him, — among 
others that his name was Perks, that he was 
married and had three children, that the lamps in 
front of engines are called head-lights and the ones 
at the back tail-lights. 

“ And that just shews,” whispered Phyllis, “ that 
trains really are dragons in disguise, with proper 
heads and tails.” 

It was on this day that the children first noticed 
that all engines are not alike. 



“Alike ? ” said the Porter, whose name was Perks, 
“ lor love you, no, Miss. No more alike nor what 
you an’ me are. That little un without a tender 
as went by just now all on her own, that was a 
tank, that was — she’s off to do some shunting 
t’ other side o’ Maidbridge. That’s as it might be 
you, Miss. Then there’s good engines, great, 
strong things with three wheels each side — joined 
with rods to strengthen ’em — as it might be me. 
Then there’s mainline engines as it might be this 
’ere young gentleman when he grows up and wins 
all the races at ’is school — so he will. The main- 
line engine she’s built for speed as well as power. 
That’s one to the 9.15 up.” 

“ The Green Dragon,” said Phyllis. 

“We calls her the snail, Miss, among ourselves,” 
said the Porter. « She’s oftener be’indand nor any 
train on the line.” 

“ But the engine’s green,” said Phyllis. 

“ Yes, Miss,” said Perks, “ so’s a snail some 
seasons of the year.” 

The children agreed as they went home to din- 
ner that the Porter was most delightful company. 

Next day was Roberta’s birthday. In the after- 
noon she was politely but firmly requested to get 
out of the way and keep there till tea-time. 



“You aren’t to see what we’re going to do till 
it’s done ; it’s a glorious surprise,” said Phyllis. 

And Roberta went out into the garden all alone. 
She tried to be grateful, but she felt she would 
much rather have helped in whatever it was than 
have to spend her birthday afternoon by herself, no 
matter how glorious the surprise might be. 

Now that she was alone, she had time to think, 
and one of the things she thought of most was 
what mother had said in one of those feverish 
nights when her hands were so hot and her eyes 
so bright. 

The words were, “Oh, what a doctor’s bill 
there’ll be for this ! ” 

She walked round and round the garden among 
the rose-bushes that hadn’t any roses yet, only 
buds, and the lilac bushes and syringas and Ameri- 
can currants, and the more she thought of the 
doctor’s bill, the less she liked the thought of it. 

And presently she made up her mind. She 
went out through the side door of the garden and 
climbed up the steep field to where the road runs 
along by the canal. She walked along until she 
came to the bridge that crosses the canal and leads 
to the village, and here she waited. It was very 
pleasant in the sunshine to lean one’s elbows on 



the warm stone of the bridge and look down at 
the blue water of the canal. Bobbie had never 
seen any other canal, except the Regent’s canal, 
and the water of that is not at all a pretty colour. 
And she had never seen any river at all except the 
Thames, which also would be all the better if its 
face were washed. 

Perhaps the children would have loved the canal 
as much as the railway, but for two things. One 
was that they had found the railway first — on 
that first, wonderful morning when the house and 
the country and the moors and rocks and great 
hills were all new to them. They had not found 
the canal till some days later. The other reason 
was that every one on the railway had been kind to 
them — the Station Master, the Porter, and the old 
gentleman who waved. And the people on the 
canal were anything but kind. 

The people on the canal were, of course, the 
bargees who steered the slow barges up and down, 
or walked beside the old horses that trampled up 
the mud of the towing-path, and strained at the 
long tow-ropes. 

Peter had once asked one of the bargees the 
time, and had been told to “ get out of that,” in a 
tone so fierce that he did not stop to say anything 



about his having just as much right on the towing- 
path as the man himself. Indeed, he did not even 
think of saying it till some time later. 

^ Then another day when the children thought 
they would like to fish in the canal, a boy in a 
barge threw lumps of coal at them, and one of 
these hit Phyllis on the back of the neck. She 
was just stooping down to tie up her bootlace, — 
and though the coal hardly hurt at all it made her 
not care very much about going on fishing. 

On the bridge, however, Roberta felt quite safe, 
because she could look down on the canal, and if 
any boy shewed signs of meaning to throw coals, 
she could duck behind the parapet. 

Presently there was a sound of wheels, which 
was just what she expected. 

The wheels were the wheels of the Doctor’s dog- 
cart, and in the cart, of course, was the Doctor. 

He pulled up, and called out : — 

“ Hullo, head Nurse ! Want a lift ? ” 

“ I wanted to see you,” said Bobbie. 

“ Our Russian friend’s not worse, I hope ? ” said 

“ No — but — ” 

“ Well, skip in, then, and we’ll go for a drive.” 

Roberta climbed in and the bony brown horse 



was made to turn round — which it did not like at 
all, for it was looking forward to its tea — I mean 
its oats. 

“ This is jolly,” said Bobbie, as the dog-cart flew 
along the road by the canal. 

“We could throw a stone down any one of your 
three chimneys,” said the Doctor, as they passed 
the house. 

“Yes,” said Bobbie, “but you’d have to be a 
jolly good shot.” 

“ How do you know I’m not ? ” said the Doctor. 
“Now, then, what’s the trouble?” 

Bobbie fidgeted with the hook of the driving 

“ Come, out with it,” said the Doctor. 

“ It’s rather hard, you see,” said Bobbie, “ to out 
with it ; because of what Mother said.” 

“ What did Mother say ? ” 

“ She said I wasn’t to go telling every one that 
we’re poor. But you aren’t every one, are you ? ” 

“ Not at all,” said the Doctor, cheerfully. 
“ Well ? ” 

“ W ell, I know doctors are very extravagant — 
I mean expensive, and Mrs. Viney told me that 
her doctoring only cost her twopence a week 
because she belonged to a Club.” 



“ Yes ? ” 

“You see she told me what a good doctor you 
were, and I asked her how she could afford you, 
because she’s much poorer than we are. I’ve been 
in her house and I know. And then she told me 
about the Club, and I thought I’d ask you — and 
— oh, I don’t want Mother to be worried ! Can’t 
we be Club, too, the same as Mrs. Yiney ? ” 

The Doctor was silent. He was rather poor him- 
self, and he had been rather pleased at getting a 
new family to attend. So I think his feelings at 
that minute were rather mixed. 

“ You aren’t cross with me, are you ? ” said 
Bobbie, in a very small voice. 

The Doctor roused himself. 

“ Cross ? How could I be ? You’re a very 
sensible little woman. Now look here, don’t you 
worry. I’ll make it all right with your Mother, 
even if I have to make a special brand-new Club all 
for her. Look here, this is where the Aqueduct 

“ What’s an Aque — what’s its name ? ” asked 

“A water bridge,” said the Doctor. “Look.” 

The road rose to a bridge over the canal. To 
the left was a steep rocky cliff with trees and 



shrubs growing in the cracks of the rock. And 
the canal here left off running along the top of the 
hill and started to run on a bridge of its own — a 
great bridge with tall arches that went right across 
the valley. 

Bobbie drew a long breath. 

“ It is grand, isn’t it ? ” she said. “ It’s like pic- 
tures in the History of Rome.” 

“ Right ! ” said the Doctor, “ that’s just exactly 
what it is like. The Romans were dead nuts on 
aqueducts. It’s a splendid piece of engineering.” 

“ I thought engineering was making engines.” 

“Ah, there are different sorts of engineering — 
making roads and bridges and tunnels is one kind. 
And making fortifications is another. Well, we 
must be turning back. And, remember, you aren’t 
to worry about doctor’s bills or you’ll be ill your- 
self, and then I’ll send you in a bill as long as the 

When Bobbie had parted from the Doctor at the 
top of the field that ran down from the road to 
Three Chimneys, she could not feel that she had 
done wrong. She knew that Mother would per- 
haps think differently. But Bobbie felt that for 
once she was the one who was right, and she 
scrambled dowm the rocky slope with a really 
happy feeling. 



Phyllis and Peter met her at the back door. 
They were unnaturally clean and neat, and Phyllis 
had a blue bow in her hair. There was only just 
time for Bobbie to make herself tidy and tie up 
her hair with a red bow before a little bell rang. 

“ There ! ” said Phyllis, “ that’s to shew the 
surprise is ready. Now you wait till the bell rings 
again and then you may come into the dining room.” 

So Bobbie waited. 

“ Tinkle, tinkle,” said the little bell, and Bobbie 
went into the dining room, feeling rather shy. 
Directly she opened the door she found herself as 
it seemed in a new world of light and flowers and 
singing. Mother and Peter and Phyllis were stand- 
ing in a row at the end of the table. The shutters 
were shut and there were twelve candles on the 
table, one for each of Roberta’s years. The table 
was covered with a sort of pattern of flowers, and 
at Roberta’s place was a thick wreath of forget- 
me-nots and several most interesting little pack- 
ages. And Mother and Phyllis and Peter were 
singing — to the first part of the tune of St. Pat- 
rick’s day. Roberta knew that Mother had writ- 
ten the words on purpose for her birthday. It 
was a little way of Mother’s on birthdays. It had 
begun on Bobbie’s fourth birthday when Phyllis 



was a baby. Bobbie remembered learning the 
verses to say to Father “ for a surprise.” She 
wondered if Mother remembered, too. The four- 
year-old verse had been : — 

Daddy dear, Fin only four 
And Fd rather not be more. 

Four’s the nicest age to be 
Two and two and one and three. 

What I love is two and two, 

= Mother, Peter, Phil, and you. 

What you love is one and three, 

Mother, Peter, Phil, and me. 

Give your little girl a kiss 
Because she learned and told you this. 

The song the others were singing now went like 
this : — 

Our darling Roberta 
No sorrow shall hurt her 
If we can prevent it 
Her whole life long. 

Her birthday’s our fete day 
We’ll make it our great day, 

And give her our presents 
And sing her our song. 

May pleasures attend her 
And may the Fates send her 
The happiest journey 
Along her life’s way. 

With skies bright above her 
And dear ones to love her ! 

Dear Bob ! Many happy 
Returns of the day ! 



When they had finished singing they cried, 
“ Three cheers for our Bobbie ! ” and gave them 
very loudly. Bobbie felt exactly as though she 
were going to cry — you know that odd feeling in 
the bridge of your nose and the pricking in your 
eyelids ? But before she had time to begin they 
were all kissing and hugging her. 

“ Now,” said Mother, “ look at your presents.” 

They were very nice presents. There was a 
green and red needle-book that Phyllis had made 
herself in secret moments. There was a darling 
little silver brooch of Mother’s shaped like a butter- 
cup, which Bobbie had known and loved for years, 
but which she had never never thought would come 
to be her very own. There was also a pair of blue 
glass vases from Mrs. Viney. Roberta had seen 
and admired them in the village shop. And there 
were three birthday cards with pretty pictures and 

Mother fitted the forget-me-not crown on Bob- 
bie’s brown head. 

“ And now look at the table,” she said. 

There was a cake on the table covered with 
white sugar, with “ Dear Bobbie ” on it in pink 
sweets, and there were buns and jam ; but the 
nicest thing was that the big table was almost 



covered with flowers — wallflowers were laid all 
round the tea-tray — there was a ring of forget- 
me-nots round each plate. The cake had a wreath 
of white lilac round it, and in the middle was some- 
thing that looked like a pattern all done with 
single blooms of lilac or wallflower or laburnum. 

“ What is it ? ” asked Roberta. 

“ It’s a map — a map of the railway ! ” cried 
Peter. “ Look — those lilac lines are the metals, 
— and there’s the station done in brown wall- 
flowers. The laburnum is the train, and there are 
the signal boxes, and the road up to here — and 
those fat red daisies are us three waving to the old 
gentleman — that’s him, the pansy in the laburnum 

“ And there’s < Three Chimneys ’ done in the 
purple primroses,” said Phyllis. “ And that little 
tiny rose-bud is Mother looking out for us when 
we’re late for tea. Peter invented it all, and we 
got all the flowers from the station. We thought 
you’d like it better.” 

“ That’s my present,” said Peter, suddenly dump- 
ing down his adored steam-engine on the table in 
front of her. Its tender had been lined with fresh 
white paper, and was full of sweets. 

“ Oh, Peter,” cried Bobbie, quite overcome by 


this munificence, “ not your own dear little engine 
that you’re so fond of ? ” 

“ Oh, no,” said Peter, very promptly, “ not the 
engine. Only the sweets.” 

Bobbie couldn’t help her face changing a little 

— not so much because she was disappointed at 
not getting the engine, as because she had thought 
it so very noble of Peter, and now she felt she 
had been silly to think it. Also she felt she must 
have seemed greedy to expect the engine as well as 
the sweets. So her face changed. Peter saw it. 
He hesitated a minute ; then his face changed, too, 
and he said : “ I mean not all the engine. I’ll let 
you go halves if you like.” 

“ You’re a darling,” cried Bobbie; “ it’s a splen- 
did present.” She said no more aloud, but to 
herself she said : — 

“ That was awfully jolly decent of Peter because 
I know he didn’t mean to. Well, the broken half 
shall be my half of the engine, and I’ll get it 
mended and give it back to Peter for his birthday.” 

— “ Yes, Mother dear, I should like to cut the cake,” 
she added, and tea began. 

It was a delightful birthday. After tea Mother 
played games with them — any game they liked 

— and of course their first choice was blind- 



man’s-buff, in the course of which Bobbie’s for- 
get-me-not wreath twisted itself crookedly over 
one of her ears and stayed there. Then when 
it was near bed-time and time to calm down, 
Mother had a lovely new story to read to them. 

“You won’t sit up late working, will you, 
Mother?” Bobbie asked as they said good night. 

And Mother said, No, she wouldn’t — she 
w T ould only just write to Father and then go to 

But when Bobbie crept down a little later to 
bring up her presents, — for she felt she really 
could not be separated from them all night, — 
Mother was not writing, but leaning her head 
on her arms and her arms on the table. I 
think it was rather good of Bobbie to slip 
quietly away, saying over and over, “ She 
doesn’t want me to know she’s unhappy, and I 
won’t know; I won’t know.” But it made a 
sad end to the birthday. 


The very next morning Bobbie began to watch her 
opportunity to secretly get Peter’s engine mended. 
And the opportunity came the very next afternoon. 

Mother went by train to the nearest town to 
do shopping. When she went there, she always 



went to the Post-office. Perhaps to post her 
letters to Father, for she never gave them to 
the children or Mrs. Viney to post, and she 
never went to the village herself. Peter and 
Phyllis went with her. Bobbie wanted an 
excuse not to go, but try as she would she 
couldn’t think of a good one. And just when 
she felt that all was lost, her frock caught on a 
big nail by the kitchen door and there was a 
great criss-cross tear all along the front of the 
skirt. I assure you this was really an accident. 
So the others pitied her and went without her, 
for there was no time for her to change, be- 
cause they were rather late already and had to 
hurry to the station to catch the train. 

When they had gone, Bobbie put on her every- 
day frock, and went down to the railway. She 
did not go into the station, but she went along 
the line to the end of the platform where the 
engine is when the down train is alongside the 
platform — the place where there is a water 
tank and a long, limp, leather hose, like an ele- 
phant’s trunk. She hid behind a bush on the 
other side of the railway. She had the toy 
engine done up in brown paper, and she waited 
patiently with it under her arm. 



Then when the next train came in and 
stopped, Bobbie went across the metals of the 
up-line and stood beside the engine. She had 
never been so close to an engine before. It 
looked much larger and harder than she had 
expected, and it made her feel very small indeed, 
and, somehow, very soft — as if she could very 
very easily be hurt rather badly. 

“ I know what silk-worms feel like now,” 
said Bobbie to herself. 

The engine-driver and fireman did not see 
her. They were leaning out on the other side, 
telling the Porter a tale about a dog and a leg 
of mutton. 

“If you please,” said Roberta, — but the en- 
gine was blowing off steam and no one heard 

“ If you please, Mr. Engineer,” she spoke a 
little louder, but the Engine happened to speak 
at the same moment, and of course Roberta’s 
soft little voice hadn’t a chance. 

It seemed to her that the only way would 
be to climb on to the engine and pull at 
their coats. The step was high, but she got her 
knee on it, and clambered into the cab ; she 
stumbled and fell on hands and knees on the 



base of the great heap of coals that led up to 
the square opening in the tender. The engine 
was not above the weaknesses of its fellows ; 
it was making a great deal more noise than 
there was the slightest need for. And just as 
Roberta fell on the coals, the engine-driver, who 
had turned without seeing her, started the en- 
gine, and when Bobbie had picked herself up, 
the train was moving — not fast, but much too 
fast for her to get off. 

All sorts of dreadful thoughts came to her all 
together in one horrible flash. There were such 
things as express trains that went on, she sup- 
posed, for hundreds of miles without stopping. 
Suppose this should be one of them ? How would 
she go home again? She had no money to pay 
for the return journey. 

“ And I’ve no business here. I’m an engine- 
burglar — that’s what I am,” she thought. “ I 
shouldn’t wonder if they could lock me up for 
this.” And the train was going faster and faster. 

There was something in her throat that made 
it impossible for her to speak. She tried twice. 
The men had their backs to her. They were doing 
something to things that looked like taps. 

Suddenly she put out her hand and caught hold 



of the nearest sleeve. The man turned with a 
start, and he and Roberta stood for a minute 
looking at each other in silence. Then the silence 
was broken by them both. 

The man said, “ Here’s a bloomin’ go ! ” and 
Roberta burst into tears. 

The other man said he was blooming well blest, 
— or something like it, — but though naturally 
surprised they were not exactly unkind. 

“ You’re a naughty little gell, that’s what you 
are,” said the fireman, and the engine-driver 
said : — 

“ Daring little piece, I call her,” but they made 
her sit down on an iron seat in the cab and told 
her to stop crying and tell them what she meant 
by it, directly minute. 

She did stop, as soon as she could. One thing 
hat helped her was the thought that Peter would 
give almost his ears to be in her place — on a rea 
engine — really going. The children had often 
wondered whether any engine-driver could be 
found noble enough to take them for a ride on an 
engine, — and now there she was. She dried 
her eyes and sniffed earnestly. 

“Now, then,” said the fireman, “out with it. 
What do you mean by it, eh ? ” 



“ Oh, please,’ 5 sniffed Bobbie, and stopped. 

“ Try again,” said the engine-driver, encourag- 

Bobbie tried again. 

“ Please, Mr. Engineer,” she said, « I did call 
out to you from the line, but you didn’t hear me 

— and I just climbed up to touch you on the arm 

— quite gently I meant to do it — and then I fell 
into the coals — and I am so sorry if I frightened 
you. Oh, don’t be cross — oh, please don’t ! ” 
She sniffed again. 

“We ain’t so much cross” said the fireman, 
“ as interred like. It ain’t every day a little 
gell tumbles into our coak bunker outer the 
sky, is it, Bill ? What did you do it for — 

“ That’s the pint,” agreed the engine-driver ; 
“ what did you do it for f ” 

Bobbie found that she had not quite stopped 
crying. The engine-driver patted her on the back 
and said: “Here, cheer up, Mate. It ain’t so bad 
as all that ’ere, I’ll be bound.” 

“ I wanted,” said Bobbie, much cheered to find 
herself addressed as “ Mate,” — “I only wanted to 
ask you if you’d be so kind as to mend this.” She 
picked up the brown paper parcel from among the 



coals and undid the string with hot, red fingers 
that trembled. 

Her feet and legs felt the scorch of the engine 
fire, but her shoulders felt the wild chill rush of 
the air. The engine lurched and shook and 
rattled, and as they shot under a bridge the 
engine seemed to shout in her ears. 

The fireman shovelled on coals. 

Bobbie unrolled the brown paper and disclosed 
the toy engine. 

“ I thought,” she said wistfully, “ that perhaps 
you’d mend this for me — because you’re an 
engineer, you know.” 

The engine-driver said he was blowed if he 
wasn’t blest. 

“ I’m blest if I ain’t blowed,” remarked the 

But the engine-driver took the little engine and 
looked at it — and the fireman ceased for an 
instant to shovel coal,. and looked too. 

“ It’s like your precious cheek,” said the engine- 
driver, — “ whatever made you think we’d be 
bothered tinkering penny toys ? ” 

“ I didn’t mean it for precious cheek,” said 
Bobbie ; “ only everybody that has anything to do 
with railways is so kind and good, I didn’t think 



you’d mind. You don’t really — do you?” she 
added, for she had seen a not unkindly wink pass 
between the two. 

“My trade’s driving of a engine, not mending 
her — especially such a hout-size in engines as this 
here,” said Bill. “ An’ ’ow are we a-goin’ to get 
you back to your sorrowing friends and relations, 
and all be forgiven and forgotten ? ” 

“ If you’ll put me down next time you stop,” 
said Bobbie, firmly, though her heart beat fiercely 
against her arm as she clasped her hands, “ and 
lend me the money for a third-class ticket, I’ll pay 
you back — honor bright. I’m not a confidence 
trick like in the newspapers — really I’m not.” 

“ You’re a little lad}^ every inch,” said Bill, 
relenting suddenly and completely. “ We’ll see 
you gets home safe. An’ about this engine — 
Jim — ain’t you got ne’er a pal as can use a 
soldering iron ? Seems to me that’s about all the 
little bounder wants doing to it.” 

“That’s what Father said,” Bobbie explained 
eagerly. “ What’s that for ? ” 

She pointed to a little brass wheel that he had 
turned as he spoke. 

“ That’s the injector.” 

“ In — what ? ” 



“ Injector to fill up the boiler.” 

“ Oh,” said Bobbie, mentally registering the fact 
to tell the others ; “ that is interesting.” 

“ This ’ere’s the automatic brake,” Bill went on, 
flattered by her enthusiasm. “You just move 
this ’ere little handle — do it with one finger, you 
can — and the train jolly soon stops. That’s what 
they call the Power of Science in the newspapers.” 

He shewed her two little dials, like clock faces, 
and told her how one shewed how much steam 
was going, and the other shewed if the brake was 
working properly. 

By the time she had seen him shut off steam 
with a big shining steel handle, Bobbie knew 
more about the inside working of an engine than 
she had ever thought there was to know, and 
Jim had promised that his second cousin’s wife’s 
brother should solder the toy engine, or Jim would 
know the reason why. Besides all the knowledge 
she had gained Bobbie felt that she and Bill and 
Jim were now friends for life, and that they had 
wholly and forever forgiven her for stumbling 
uninvited among the sacred coals of their tender. 

At Stacklepoole Junction she parted from them 
with warm expressions of mutual regard. They 
handed her over to the guard of a returning 



train — a friend of theirs — and she had the joy 
of knowing what guards do in their secret fast- 
nesses, and understood how, when you pull the 
handle in railway carriages, properly or improp- 
erly, a wheel goes round under the guard’s nose 
and a loud bell rings in his ears. She asked the 
guard why his van smelt so fishy, and learned that 
he had to carry a lot of fish every day, and that 
the wetness in the hollows of the corrugated floor 
had all drained out of boxes full of plaice and cod 
and mackerel and soles and smelts. 

Bobbie got home in time for tea, and she felt 
as though her mind would burst with all that had 
been put into it since she parted from the others. 
How she blessed the nail that had torn her frock ! 

“ Where have you been ? ” asked the others. 

“ To the station, of course,” said Roberta. But 
she would not tell a word of her adventures till 
the day appointed, when she mysteriously led them 
to the station at the hour of the 3.19’s transit, and 
proudly introduced them to her friends, Bill and 
Jim — Jim’s second cousin’s wife’s brother had not 
been unworthy of the sacred trust reposed in him. 
The toy engine was, literally, as good as new. 

“ Good-by — oh, good-by,” said Bobbie, just 
before the engine screamed it’s good-by. “ I 




shall always always love you — and Jim’s second 
cousin’s wife’s brother as well ! ” 

And as the three children went home up the 
hill, Peter hugging the engine, now quite its own 
man again, Bobbie told, with joyous leaps of the 
heart, the story of how she had been an Engine- 



It was one day when Mother had gone to Maid- 
bridge. She had gone alone, but the children 
were to go to the station to meet her. And, lov- 
ing the station as they did, it was only natural 
that they should be there a good hour before there 
was any chance of Mother’s train arriving, even if 
the train were punctual, which was most unlikely. 
No doubt they would have been just as early, even 
if it had been a fine day, and all the delights of 
woods and fields and rocks and rivers had been 
open to them. But it happened to be a very wet 
day and, for July, very cold. There was a wild 
wind that drove flocks of dark purple clouds across 
the' sky “like herds of dream-elephants,” as Phyllis 
said. And the rain stung sharply, so that the way 
to the station was finished at a run. Then the 
rain fell faster and harder, and beat slantwise 
against the windows of the booking office and of 
the chill place that has General Waiting Room on 
its door. 




“ It’s like being in a besieged castle,” Phyllis 
idas; “look at the arrows of the foe striking 
against the battlements ! ” 

“ It’s much more like a grand garden-squirt,” 
said Peter. 

They decided to wait on the up side, for the down 
platform looked very wet indeed, and the rain was 
driving right into the little bleak shelter where 
down passengers have to wait for their trains. 

The hour would be full of incident and of inter- 
est, for there would be two up trains, and one 
down to look at before the one that should bring 
Mother back. 

“ Perhaps it’ll have stopped raining by then,” 
said Bobbie ; “ anyhow, Pm glad I brought Mother’s 
waterproof and umbrella.” 

They went into the desert spot labelled General 
Waiting Room, and the time passed pleasantly 
enough in a game of advertisements. You know 
the game, of course ? It is something like dumb 
Crambo. The players take it in turns to go out, 
and then come back and look as like some adver- 
tisment as they can, and the others have to guess 
what advertisement it is meant to be. Bobbie 
came in and sat down under Mother’s umbrella 
and made a sharp face, and every one knew she 



was the fox who sits under the umbrella in the 
advertisement. Phyllis tried to make a Magic 
Carpet of Mother’s waterproof, but it would not 
stand out stiff and raft-like as a Magic Carpet 
should, and nobody could guess it. Every one 
thought Peter was carrying things a little too far 
when he blacked his face all over with coal-dust 
and struck a spidery attitude and said he was the 
blot that advertises somebody’s Blue Black Writ- 
ing Fluid. 

It was Phyllis’s turn again, and she was trying 
to look like the Sphinx that advertises What’s-his- 
name’s Personally Conducted Tours up the Nile 
when the sharp ting of the signal announced the 
up train. The children rushed out to see it pass. 
On its engine were the particular driver and fire- 
man who were now numbered among the chil- 
dren’s dearest friends. Courtesies passed between 
them. Jim asked after the toy engine, and Bobbie 
pressed on his acceptance a moist greasy package 
of toffee that she had made herself. 

Charmed by this attention, the engine-driver 
consented to consider her request that some day 
he would take Peter for a ride on the engine. 

“ Stand back, Mates,” cried the engine-driver- 
suddenly, “and horf she goes.” 



And sure enough, off the train went. The chil- 
dren watched the tail-lights of the train till it 
disappeared round the curve of the line, and then 
turned to go back to the dusty freedom of the 
General Waiting Room and the joys of the adver’ 
tisement game. 

They expected to see just one or two people, the 
end of the procession of passengers who had given 
up their tickets and gone away. Instead, the plat- 
form round the door of the station had a dark 
blot round it, and the dark blot was a crowd of 

“Oh!” cried Peter, with a thrill of joyous 
excitement, “ something’s happened ! Come on ! ” 

They ran down the platform. When they got 
to the crowd, they could, of course, see nothing but 
the damp backs and elbows of the people on the 
crowd’s outside. Everybody was talking at once. 
It was evident that something had happened. 

“ It’s my belief he’s nothing worse than a 
natural,” said a farmerish looking person. Peter 
saw his red, clean-shaven face as he spoke. 

“If it was one, I should say it was a Police 
Court case,” said a young man with a black 

“ Not it ; the Infirmary more like — ” 



Then the voice of the Station Master was heard, 
firm and official : — 

“Now, then — move along there. I’ll attend to 
this if you please.” 

But the crowd did not move. And then came 
a voice that thrilled the children through and 
through. For it spoke in a foreign language. 
And, what is more, it was a language that they 
had never heard. They had heard French spoken 
and German. Aunt Emma knew German, and 
used to sing a song about bedeuten and zeitm and 
bin and sin. Nor was it Latin. Peter had been 
in Latin for four terms. 

It was some comfort, anyhow, to find that none 
of the crowd understood the foreign language any 
better than the children did. 

“ What’s that he’s saying ? ” asked the farmer 

“ Sounds like French to me,” said the Station 
Master, who had once been to Boulogne for the 

“ It isn’t French ! ” cried Peter. 

“ What is it, then ? ” asked more than one voice. 
The crowd fell back a little to see who had spoken, 
and Peter pressed forward, so that when the 
crowd closed up again he was in the front rank. 



“ I don’t know what it is,” said Peter, “ but it 
isn’t French. I know that.” Then he saw what 
it was that the crowd had for its centre. It 
was a man — the man, Peter did not doubt, who 
had spoken in that strange tongue. A man with 
long hair and wild eyes, with shabby clothes of 
a cut Peter had not seen before — a man whose 
hands and lips trembled, and who spoke again as 
his eyes fell on Peter. 

« No, it’s not French,” said Peter. 

“ Try him with French if you know so much 
about it,” said the farmer-man. 

“ Parlay voo Frongsay f ” began Peter, boldly, 
and the next moment the crowd recoiled again, 
for the man with the wild eyes had left leaning 
against the wall, and had sprung forward and 
caught Peter’s hands, and begun to pour forth 
a flood of words which, though he could not 
understand a word of them, Peter knew the 
sound of. 

“ There ! ” said he, and turned, his hands still 
clasped in the hands of the strange shabby figure, 
to throw a glance of triumph at the crowd ; “ there? 
that's French.” 

“ What does he say ? ” 

“ I don’t know.” Peter was obliged to own it. 



44 Here,” said the Station Master again ; 44 you 
move on if you please. Pll deal with this case.” 

A few of the more timid or less inquisitive 
travellers moved slowly and reluctantly away. 
And Phyllis and Bobbie got near to Peter. All 
three had been taught French at school. How 
deeply they now wished that they had learned it ! 
Peter shook his head at the stranger, but he also 
shook his hands as warmly and looked at him as 
kindly as he could. A person in the crowd, after 
some hesitation, said suddenly, 44 No comprenny ! ” 
and then, blushing deeply, backed out of the press 
and went away. 

44 Take him into your room,” whispered Bobbie 
to the Station Master. 44 Mother can talk French. 
She’ll be here by the next train from Maidbridge.” 

The Station Master took the arm of the 
stranger, suddenly but not unkindly. But the 
man wrenched his arm away, and cowered back 
coughing and trembling and trying to push the 
Station Master away. 

44 Oh, don’t ! ” said Bobbie ; 44 don’t you see how 
frightened he is ? He thinks you’re going to shut 
him up. I know he does, — look at his eyes ! ” 

44 They’re like a fox’s eyes when the beast’s in a 
trap,” said the farmer. 



“ Oh, let me try ! ” Bobbie went on ; “I do really 
know one or two French words if I could only 
think of them.” 

Sometimes, in moments of great need, we can 
do wonderful things — things that in ordinary life 
we could hardly even dream of doing. Bobbie had 
never been anywhere near the top of her French 
class, but she must have learned something with- 
out knowing it, for now, looking at those wild, 
hunted eyes, she actually made up, and what is 
more, spoke, a French sentence. She said : — 

“ Vous attendre . Ma mere parlez Frangais* 

Nous — what’s the French for 4 being kind ’ ? ” 

Nobody knew. 

“ Bong is ‘ good,’ ” said Phyllis. 

“ Nous etre bong pour vous 99 

I do not know whether the man understood her 
words, but he understood the touch of the hand 
she thrust into his, and the kindness of the other 
hand that stroked his shabby sleeve. 

She pulled him gently towards the inmost 
sanctuary of the Station Master. The other chil- 
dren followed, and the Station Master shut the 
door in the face of the crowd, which stood a 
little while in the booking office talking and look- 
ing at the fast closed yellow door, and then by 
ones and twos went its way, grumbling. 



Inside the Station Master’s room Bobbie still 
held the stranger’s hand and stroked his sleeve. 

“ Here’s a go,” said the Station Master ; “ no 
ticket — doesn’t even know where he wants to go. 
I’m not sure now but what I ought to send for the 

“ Oh, don't ! ” all the children pleaded at once. 
And suddenly Bobbie got between the others and 
the stranger, for she had seen that he was crying. 

By a most unusual piece of good fortune she had 
a handkerchief in her pocket. By a still more un- 
common accident the handkerchief was moderately 
clean. Standing in front of the stranger, she got 
out the handkerchief and passed it to him so that 
the others did not see. 

“ Wait till Mother comes,” Phyllis was saying ; 
“she does speak French beautifully. You’d just 
love to hear her.” 

“ I’m sure he hasn’t done anything like you’re 
sent to prison for,” said Peter. 

“ Looks like without visible means to me,” said 
the Station Master. “ Well, I don’t mind giving 
him the benefit of the doubt till your Mamma 
comes. I should like to know what nation’s got 
the credit of him , that I should.” 

Then Peter had an idea. He pulled an envelope 



out of his pocket, and showed that it was half full 
of foreign stamps. “ Look here,” he said, “ let’s 
shew him these — ” 

Bobbie looked and saw that the stranger had 
dried his eyes with her handkerchief. So she said 
“All right.” 

They shewed him an Italian stamp, and pointed 
from him to it and back again, and made signs of 
question with their eyebrows. He shook his head. 
Then they shewed him a Norwegian stamp — the 
common blue kind it was — and again he signed 
No. Then they shewed him a Spanish one, and at 
that he took the envelope from Peter’s hand and 
searched among the stamps with a hand that 
trembled. The hand that he reached out at last,, 
with a gesture as of one answering a question 
contained a Russian stamp. 

“ He’s Russian,” cried Peter, “ or else he’s like 
6 the man who was ’ — in Kipling, you know. 
Russia’s an awful place. That’s why he’s so 
frightened. They do dreadful things to you there 
just for nothing at all — Mother told me.” 

The train from Maidbridge was signalled. 

“I’ll stay with him till you bring Mother in,” 
said Bobbie. 

“You’re not afraid, Missie?” 



“ Oh, no,” said Bobbie, looking at the stranger, 
as she might have looked at a strange dog of 
doubtful temper. “ You wouldn’t hurt me, would 
you ? ” 

She smiled at him, and he smiled back, a queer 
crooked smile. And then he coughed again. And 
the heavy rattling swish of the incoming train 
swept past, and the Station Master and Peter and 
Phyllis went out to meet it. Bobbie was still 
holding the stranger’s hand when they came back 
with Mother. 

The Russian rose and bowed very ceremo- 

Then Mother spoke in French, and he replied, 
haltingly at first, but presently in longer and 
longer sentences. 

The children, watching his face and Mother’s, 
knew that he was telling her things that made her 
angry and pitying, and sorry and indignant all 
at once. 

“ Well, Mum, what’s it all about ? ” The Sta- 
tion Master could not restrain his curiosity any 

“ Oh,” said Mother, “ it’s all right. He’s a Rus- 
sian, and he’s lost his ticket. And Pm afraid he’s 
very ill. If you don’t mind, I’ll take him home 



with me now. He’s really quite worn out, and I’ll 
run down and tell you all about him to-morrow.” 

“ I hope you won’t find you’re taking home a 
frozen viper,” said the Station Master, doubtfully. 

“ Oh, no,” Mother said brightly, and she smiled ; 
“ I’m quite sure I’m not. Why, he’s a great man 
in his own country, writes books — beautiful books 
— I’ve read some of them; but I’ll tell you all 
about it to-morrow.” 

She spoke again in French to the Russian, and 
every one could see the surprise and pleasure and 
gratitude in his eyes. He got up and politely 
bowed to the Station Master, and offered his arm 
most ceremoniously to Mother. She took it, but 
anybody could have seen that she was helping him 
along, and not he her. 

“You girls run home and light a fire in the 
sitting room,” Mother said, “ and Peter had better 
go for the Doctor.” 

But it was Bobbie who went for the Doctor. 

“ I hate to tell you,” she said breathlessly when 
she came upon him in his shirt sleeves, weeding 
his pansy -bed, “but Mother’s got a very shabby 
Russian, and I’m sure he’ll have to belong to your 
Club. I’m certain he hasn’t got any money. We 
found him at the station.” 



“Found him — was he lost, then ? ” asked the 
Doctor, reaching for his coat. 

“ Yes,” said Bobbie, unexpectedly, “ that’s just 
what he was. He’s been telling Mother the sad, 
sweet story of his life in French ; and she said 
would you be kind enough to come directly if you 
were at home. He has a dreadful cough, and he’s 
been crying.” 

The Doctor smiled. 

“Oh, don’t,” said Bobbie; “please don’t. You 
wouldn’t if you’d seen him. I never saw a man 
cry before. You don’t know what it’s like.” 

Dr. Forrest wished then that he hadn’t smiled. 

When Bobbie and the Doctor got to Three 
Chimneys, the Russian was sitting in the arm- 
chair that had been Father’s, stretching his feet 
to the blaze of a bright wood fire, and sipping 
the tea Mother had made him. 

“The man seems worn out, mind and body,’’ 
was what the Doctor said ; “ the cough’s bad, but 
there’s nothing that can’t be cured. He ought to 
go straight to bed, though — and let him have 
a fire at night.” 

“ I’ll make one in my room ; it’s the only one 
with a fireplace,” said Mother. She did, and 
presently the Doctor helped the stranger to bed. 



There was a big black trunk in Mother’s room 
that none of the children had ever seen unlocked. 
Now, when she had lighted the fire, she unlocked 
it and took some clothes out, — men’s clothes, — 
and set them to air by the newly lighted fire. 
Bobbie, coming in with more wood for the fire, 
saw the mark on the night-shirt, and looked over 
to the open trunk. All the things she could see 
were men’s clothes. And the name marked on the 
shirt was Father’s name. Then Father hadn’t 
taken his clothes with him. And that night-shirt 
was one of Father’s new ones. Bobbie remem- 
bered its being made, just before Peter’s birthday. 
Why hadn’t Father taken his clothes? Bobbie 
slipped from the room. As she went she heard 
the key turned in the lock of the trunk. Her 
heart was beating horribly. Why hadn’t Father 
taken his clothes ? When Mother came out of the 
room, Bobbie flung tightly clasping arms round 
her waist, and whispered : — 

“ Mother — Daddy isn’t — isn’t dead, is he — ” 
“ My darling, no ! What made you think of 
anything so horrible ? ” 

“ I — I don’t know, ” said Bobbie, angry with 
herself, but still clinging to that resolution of hers, 
not to see anything that Mother didn’t mean her 
to see. 



Mother gave her a hurried hug. “ Daddy was 
quite, quite well when I heard from him last,” 
she said, “and he’ll come back to us some day. 
Don’t fancy such horrible things, darling ! ” 

Later on, when the Russian Stranger had been 
made comfortable for the night, Mother came into 
the girls’ room. She was to sleep there in 
Phyllis’s bed, and Phyllis was to have a mattress 
on the floor, a most amusing adventure for Phyllis. 
Directly Mother came in, two white figures started 
up, and two eager voices called : — 

“ Now, Mother, tell us all about the Russian 

A white shape hopped into the room. It was 
Peter, dragging his quilt behind him like the tail 
of a white peacock. 

“We have been patient,” he said, “and I had 
to bite my tongue not to go to sleep, and I just 
nearly went to sleep and bit it too hard, and it 
hurts ever so. Do tell us. Make a nice long 
story of it.” 

“I can’t make a long story of it to-night,” 
said Mother ; « Pm very tired.” 

Bobbie knew by her voice that Mother had been 
crying, but the others didn’t know. 

“ Well, make it as long as you can,” said Phil, 



and Bobbie got her arms round Mother’s waist 
and snuggled close to her. 

“ Well, it’s a story long enough to make a whole 
book of. He’s a writer ; he’s written beautiful 
books. But you know in Russia you mustn’t say 
anything about the rich people doing wrong, or 
about the things that ought to be done to make 
poor people better and happier. If you do, they 
send you to prison.” 

“ But they can't” said Peter; “ people only go to 
prison when they’ve done wrong.” 

“ Or when the Judges think they’ve done 
wrong,” said Mother. “ Yes, that’s so in England. 
But in Russia it’s different." And he wrote a 
beautiful book about poor people and how to 
help them. I’ve read it. There’s nothing in 
it but goodness and kindness. And they sent 
him to prison for it. He was three years in a 
horrible dungeon, with hardly any light, and all 
damp and dreadful. In prison all alone for three 

Mother’s voice trembled a little and stopped 

“ But, Mother,” said Peter, “ that can’t be true 
now. It sounds like something out of a history 
book — the Inquisition, or something.” 



“ It is true,” said Mother ; “ it’s all horribly 
true. Well, then they took him out and sent 
him to Siberia, a convict chained to other con- 
victs — wicked men who’d done all sorts of crimes 

— a long chain of them, and they walked, and 
walked, and walked, for days and weeks, till he 
thought they’d never stop walking. And over- 
seers went behind them with whips — yes, whips 

— to beat them if they got tired. And some of 
them went lame, and some fell down, and when 
they couldn’t get up and go on, they beat them, 
and then left them to die. Oh, it’s all too terrible ! 
And at last he got to the mines, and he was 
condemned to stay there for life — for life, just 
for writing a good, noble, splendid book.” 

« How did he get away ? ” 

“When the war came, some of the Russian 
prisoners were allowed to volunteer as soldiers. 
And he volunteered. But he deserted at the first 
chance he got and — ” 

“But that’s very cowardly, isn’t it — ” said 
Peter — “ to desert ? Especially when it’s war.” 

“Do you think he owed anything to a country 
that had done that to him ? If he did, he owed 
more to his wife and children. He didn’t know 
what had become of them.” 


“ Oh,” cried Bobbie, “ he had them to think 
about and be miserable about too, then, all the time 
he was in prison ? ” 

“ Yes, he had them to think about and be mis- 
erable about all the time he was in prison. For 
anything he knew they might have been sent to 
prison, too. They do those things in Russia. But 
while he was in the mines some friends managed 
to get a message to him that his wife and children 
had escaped and come to England. So when he 
deserted he came here to look for them.” 

“ Has he got their address ? ” said practical 

“ No ; just England. He was going to London, 
and he thought he had to change at our station, 
and then he found he’d lost his ticket and his 

“ Oh, do you think he’ll find them — I mean his 
wife and children, not the ticket and things.” 

“ I hope so. Oh, I hope and pray that he’ll find 
his wife and children again.” 

Even Phyllis now perceived that Mother’s voice 
was very unsteady. 

“ Why, Mother,” she said, “ how very sorry you 
seem to be for him ! ” 

Mother didn’t answer for a minute. Then she 



just said, “ Yes,” and then she seemed to be think- 
ing. The children were quiet. 

Presently she said, “ Dears, when you say your 
prayers, I think you might ask God to show His 
pity upon all prisoners and captives.” 

“To show His pity,” Bobbie repeated slowly, 
“upon all prisoners and captives. Is that right, 
Mother ? ” 

“Yes,” said Mother, “upon all prisoners and 
captives. All prisoners and captives.” 



The Russian gentleman was better the next day, 
and the day after that better still, and on the third 
day he was well enough to come into the garden. 
A basket chair was put for him and he sat there, 
dressed in clothes of Father’s which were too big 
for him. But when Mother had hemmed up the 
ends of the sleeves and the trousers, the clothes did 
well enough. His was a kind face now that it was 
no longer tired and frightened, and he smiled at 
the children whenever he saw them. They wished 
very much that he could speak English. Mother 
wrote several letters to people she thought might 
know whereabouts in England a Russian gentle- 
man’s wife and family might possibly be; not to 
the people she used to know before she came to 
live at Three Chimneys — she never wrote to any 
of them — but strange people, — Members of Par- 
liament and Editors of papers, and Secretaries of 

And she did not do much of her story-writing, 




only corrected proofs as she sat in the sun near the 
Russian, and talked to him every now and then. 

The children wanted very much to shew how 
kindly they felt to this man who had been sent to 
prison and to Siberia just for writing a beautiful 
book about poor people. They could smile at him, 
of course ; they could and they did. But if you 
smile too constantly, the smile is apt to get fixed 
like the smile of the hyaena. And then it no longer 
looks friendly, but simply silly. So they tried 
other ways, and brought him flowers till the place 
where he sat was surrounded by little bunches of 
clover and roses and Canterbury bells. 

And then Phyllis had an idea. She beckoned 
mysteriously to the others and drew them into 
the back yard, and there, in a concealed spot, 
between the pump and the water-butt, she said : — 

“ You remember Perks promising me the very 
first strawberries out of his own garden.” Perks, 
you will recollect, was the Porter. “Well, I 
should think they’re ripe now. Let’s go down 
and see.” 

Mother had been down as she had promised to 
tell the Station Master the story of the Russian 
Prisoner. But even the charms of the railway 
had been unable to tear the children away from 



the neighbourhood of the interesting stranger. 
So they had not been to the station for three 

They went now. 

And, to their surprise and distress, were very 
coldly received by Perks. 

“ ’Ighly honoured, I’m sure,” he said when they 
peeped in at the door of the Porter’s room. And 
he went on reading his newspaper. 

There was an uncomfortable silence. 

“ 0 dear,” said Bobbie, with a sigh, « I do 
believe you’re cross” 

“ What, me ? Not me ! ” said Perks, loftily ; “ it 
ain’t nothing to me.” 

“ What ain’t nothing to you ? ” said Peter, too 
anxious and alarmed to change the form of words. 

“ Nothing ain’t nothing. What ’appens either 
’ere or helsewhere,” said Perks, “ if you likes to 
’ave your secrets, ’ave ’em and welcome. That’s 
what I say.” 

The secret-chamber of each heart was rapidly 
examined during the pause that followed. Three 
heads were shaken. 

“We haven’t got any secrets from you” said 
Bobbie at last. 

“ Maybe you ’ave, and maybe you ’aven’t,” said 



Perks; “it ain’t nothing to me. And I wish you 
all a very good afternoon.” He held up the paper 
between him and them and went on reading. 

“ Oh, don’t ! ” said Phyllis, in despair ; “ this is 
truly dreadful ! Whatever it is, do tell us.” 

“We didn’t mean to do it whatever it was.” 

No answer. The paper was refolded and Perks 
began on another column. 

“ Look here,” said Peter, suddenly, “ it’s not 
fair. Even people who do crimes aren’t punished 
without being told what it’s for — unless it’s in 

“ I don’t know nothing about Russia.” 

“ Oh, yes, you do, when Mother came down on 
purpose to tell you and Mr. Gills all about our 

“Can’t you fancy it?” said Perks, indignantly; 
“ don’t you see ’im a-asking of me to step into ’is 
room and take a chair and listen to what ’er Lady- 
ship ’as to say ? ” 

“ Do you mean to say you’ve not heard ? ” 

“ Not so much as a breath. I did go so far as 
to put a question. And he shuts me up like a 
rat-trap. ‘Affairs of State, Perks,’ says he. But 
I did think one o’ you would ’a’ nipped down to 
tell me — you’re here sharp enough when you 



want to get anything out of old Perks,” — 
Phyllis flushed purple as she thought of the 
strawberries, — “ information about locomotives or 
signals or the likes,” said Perks. 

“ We didn’t know you didn’t know.” 

“We thought Mother had told you.” 

“We wanted to tell you only we thought it 
would be stale news.” 

The three spoke all at once. 

Perks said it was all very well, and still held 
up the paper. Then Phyllis suddenly snatched it 
away, and threw her arms round his neck. 

“ Oh, let’s kiss and be friends,” she said ; “ we’ll 
say we’re sorry first, if you like, but we didn’t 
really know that you didn’t know.” 

“We are so sorry,” said the others. 

And Perks at last consented to accept their 

Then they got him to come out and sit in the 
sun on the green Railway Bank, where the grass 
was quite hot to touch, and there, sometimes 
speaking one at a time, and sometimes all together, 
they told the Porter the story of the Russian 

“Well, I must say,” said Perks ; but he did not 
say it — whatever it was. 



“ Yes, it is pretty awful, isn’t it? ” said Peter, 
“and I don’t wonder you were curious about who 
the Russian was.” 

“ I wasn’t curious, not so much as interested,” 
said the Porter. 

“ Well, I do think Mr. Gills might have told you 
about it. It was horrid of him.” 

“ I don’t keep no down on ’im for that, Missie,” 
said the Porter; “cos why? I see ’is reasons. ’E’s 
Russian sides in this ’ere war. An’ I’m Jap. 
Course ’e wouldn’t want to give away ’is own 
side with a tale like that ’ere. It ain’t human 
nature. A man’s got to stand up for his own 
side whatever they does. That’s what it means 
by Party Politics. I should ’a’ done the same 
myself if that long-’aired chap ’ad ’a’ been a 

“ But the Japs don’t do cruel wicked things like 
that,” said Bobbie. 

“ P’r’aps not,” said Perks, cautiously ; “ still you 
can’t be sure with foreigners. My own belief is 
they’re all tarred with the same brush.” 

“ Then why are you on the side of the Japs ? ” 
Peter asked. 

“Well, sir — you see you must take one side or 
the other. Same as with Liberals and Conserva- 



tives. The great thing is to take your side and 
then stick to it, whatever happens.” 

A signal sounded. 

“There’s the 3.14 up,” said Perks. “You lie 
low till she’s through, and then we’ll go up along 
to my place, and see if there’s any of them straw- 
berries ripe what I told you about.” 

“ If there are any ripe, and you do give them 
to me,” said Phyllis, “you won’t mind if I give 
them to the poor Russian, will you ? ” 

Perks narrowed his eyes and then raised his 

“ So it was them strawberries you come down 
for this afternoon, eh ? ” said he. 

This was an awkward moment for Phyllis. To 
say « yes ” would seem rude and greedy, and 
unkind to Perks. But she knew if she said 
“ no, ” she would not he pleased with herself after- 
wards. So : — 

“ Yes,” she said, “ it was.” 

“Well done ! ” said the Porter ; « speak the 
truth and shame the — ” 

“ But we’d have come down the very next 
day if we’d known you hadn’t heard the story,” 
Phyllis added hastily. 

“ I believe you, Missie,” said Perks, and sprang 



across the line six feet in front of the advancing 

The girls hated to see him do this, but Peter 
liked it. It was so exciting. 

The Russian gentleman was so delighted with 
the strawberries that the three racked their brains 
to find some other surprise for him. But all the 
racking did not bring out any idea more novel 
than wild cherries. And this idea occurred to 
them next morning. They had seen the blossom 
on the trees in the spring, and they knew where 
to look for wild cherries now that cherry time 
was here. The trees grew all up and along the 
rocky face of the cliff out of which the mouth 
of the tunnel opened. There were all sorts of 
trees there, birches and beeches and baby oaks 
and hazels, and among them the cherry blossom 
had shone like snow and silver. 

The mouth of the tunnel was some way from 
Three Chimneys, so Mother let them take their 
lunch with them in a basket. And the basket 
would do to bring the cheeries back in if they 
found any. She also lent them her silver watch 
so that they should not be late for tea. Peter’s 
Waterbury had taken it into its head not to go 
since the day when Peter dropped it into the 



water-butt. And they started. When they got 
to the top of the cutting, they leaned over the 
fence and looked down to where the railway 
lines lay at the bottom of what, as Phyllis said, 
was exactly like a mountain gorge. 

“ If it wasn’t for the railway at the bottom, it 
would be as though the foot of man had never, 
wouldn’t it ? ” she said. 

The sides of the cutting were of gray stone, 
very roughly hewn. Indeed the top part of the 
cutting had been a little natural glen that had been 
cut deeper to bring it down to the level of the 
tunnel’s mouth. Among the rocks, grass and 
flowers grew, and seeds dropped by birds in the 
crannies of the stone had taken root and grown 
into bushes and trees that overhung the cutting. 
Near the tunnel was a flight of steps leading down 
to the line — just wooden bars roughly fixed into 
the earth — a very steep and narrow way, more like 
a ladder than a stair. 

“ We’d better get down,” said Peter ; “ I’m sure 
the cherries would be quite easy to get at from the 
side of the steps. You remember it was there we 
picked the cherry blossom that we put on the 
rabbit’s funeral grave.” 

So they went along the fence towards the little 


swing gate that is at the top of these steps. 
And they were almost at the gate when Bobbie 
said : — 

“ Hush. Stop ! What’s that ? ” 

“ That ” was a very odd noise indeed, — a soft 
noise, but quite plainly to be heard through the 
sound of the wind in the tree branches, and the 
hum and whirr of the telegraph wires. It was a 
sort of rustling, whispering sound. As they listened 
it stopped, and then it began again. 

And this time it did not stop, but it grew louder 
and more rustling and rumbling. 

“ Look — ” cried Peter, suddenly — “ the tree 
over there ! ” 

The tree he pointed at was one of those that 
have rough gray leaves and white flowers. The 
berries, when they come, are bright scarlet, but if 
you pick them, they disappoint you by turning 
black before you get them home. And, as Peter 
pointed, the tree was moving, — not just the way 
trees ought to move when the wind blows through 
them, but all in one piece, as though it were a 
live creature and were walking down the side of 
the cutting. 

“ It’s moving ! ” cried Bobbie. “ Oh, look ! and so 
are the others. It’s like the woods in Macbeth.” 



“ It’s magic,” said Phyllis, breathlessly. “ I 
always knew this railway was enchanted.” 

It really did seem a little like magic. For all 
the trees for about twenty yards of the opposite 
bank seemed to be slowly walking down towards the 
railway line, the tree with the gray leaves bringing 
up the rear like some old shepherd driving a flock 
of green sheep. 

“ What is it ? Oh, what is it ? ” said Phyllis ; 
“ it’s much too magic for me. I don’t like it. 
Let’s go home.” 

But Bobby and Peter clung fast to the rail, 
and watched breathlessly. And Phyllis made no 
movement towards going home by herself. 

The trees moved on and on. Some stones and 
loose earth fell down and rattled on the railway 
metals far below. 

“ It’s all coming down,” Peter tried to say, but 
he found there was hardly any voice to say it with. 
And, indeed, just as he spoke, the great rock, on the 
top of which the walking trees were, leaned slowly 
forward. The trees, ceasing to walk, stood still 
and shivered and shivered. Leaning with the rock, 
they seemed to hesitate a moment, and then rock 
and trees and grass and bushes, with a rushing 
sound, slipped right away from the face of the 



cutting and fell on the line with a blundering crash 
that could have been heard half a mile off. A 
cloud of dust rose up. 

“ Oh,” said Peter, in awestruck tones, “ isn’t it 
exactly like when coals come in — if there wasn’t 
any roof to the cellar and you could see down.” 

“ Look what a great mound it’s made ! ” said 

“ Yes, it’s right across the down line,” said 

“ That’ll take some sweeping up,” said Bobbie. 

“ Yes,” said Peter, slowly. He was still leaning 
on the fence. “Yes,” he said again, still more 

Then he stood upright. 

“ The 11.2 down hasn’t gone by yet. We must 
let them know at the station, or there’ll be a most 
frightful accident.” 

“ Let’s run,” said Bobbie, and began. 

But Peter cried, “ Come back ! ” and looked at 
Mother’s watch. He was very prompt and busi- 
nesslike, and his face looked whiter than they had 
ever seen it. 

“No time,” he said ; « it’s two miles away, and 
it’s past eleven.” 

“Couldn’t we,” suggested Phyllis, breathlessly, 



“ couldn’t we climb up a telegraph post and do 
something to the wires ? ” 

“ We don’t know how,” said Peter. 

“ They do it in war,” said Phyllis ; “ I know I’ve 
heard of it.” 

“ They only cut them, silly,” said Peter, “ and 
that doesn’t do any good. And we couldn’t cut 
them even if we got up, and we couldn’t get up. 
If we had anything red, we could get down on the 
line and wave it.” 

“ But the train wouldn’t see us till it got round 
the corner, and then it could see the mound just 
as well as us,” said Phyllis ; “ better, because it’s 
much bigger than us.” 

“ If we only had something red,” Peter repeated ; 
“ we could go round the corner and wave to the 

“We might wave, anyway.” 

“They’d only think it was just us , as usual. 
We’ve waved so often before. Anyway, let’s get 

They got down the steep stairs. Bobbie was 
pale and shivering. Peter’s face looked thinner 
than usual. Phyllis was red-faced and damp with 

“ Oh, how hot I am ! ” she said ; “ and I thought 



it was going to be cold ; I wish we hadn’t put on 
our — ” she stopped short, and then ended in quite 
a different tone - — “ our flannel petticoats.” 

Bobbie turned at the bottom of the stairs. 

“ Oh, yes,” she cried ; “ they're red ! Let’s take 
them off.” 

They did, and with the petticoats rolled up 
under their arms, ran along the railway, skirting 
the newly fallen mound of stones and rock and 
earth, and bent, crushed, twisted trees. They ran 
at their best pace. Peter led, but the girls were 
not far behind. They reached the corner that hid 
the mound from the straight line of railway that 
ran half a mile without curve or corner. 

“Now,” said Peter, taking hold of the largest 
flannel petticoat. 

“You’re not — ” Phyllis faltered- — “you’re not 
going to tear them ? ” 

“ Shut up,” said Peter, with brief sternness. 

« Oh, yes,” said Bobbie, “ tear them into little 
bits if you like. Don’t you see, Phil, if we can’t 
stop the train, there’ll be a real live accident, with 
people hilled. Oh, horrible ! Here, Peter, you’ll 
never tear it through the band ! ” 

She took the red flannel petticoat from him and 
tore it off an inch from the band. Then she tore 
the other in the same way. 


“ There ! ” said Peter, tearing in his turn. He 
divided each petticoat into three pieces. “Now, 
we’ve got six flags.” He looked at the watch 
again. « And we’ve got seven minutes. We must 
have flag-staffs.” 

The knives given to boys are, for some odd 
reason, seldom of the kind of steel that keeps 
sharp. The young saplings had to be broken off. 
Two came up by the roots. The leaves were 
stripped from them. 

“ We must cut holes in the flags, and run the 
sticks through the holes,” said Peter. And the 
holes were cut. The knife was sharp enough to 
cut flannel with. Two of the flags were set up in 
heaps of loose stones between the sleepers of the 
down line. Then Phyllis and Roberta took each a 
flag, and stood ready to wave it as soon as the 
train came in sight. 

“ I shall have the other two myself,” said Peter, 
“because it was my idea if we waved something 

“They’re our petticoats, though,” Phyllis was 
beginning, but Bobbie interrupted — 

“ Oh, what does it matter who waves what, if 
we can only save the train ? ” 

Perhaps Peter had not rightly calculated the 



number of minutes it would take the 11.29 to get 
from the station to the place where they were, or 
perhaps the train was late. Anyway, it seemed a 
very long time that they waited. 

Phyllis grew impatient. “ I expect the watch is 
wrong, and the train’s gone by,” said she. 

Peter relaxed the heroic attitude he had chosen 
to shew off his two flags with. And Bobbie began 
to feel sick with suspense. 

It seemed to her that they had been standing 
there for hours and hours, holding those silly little 
red flannel flags that no one would ever notice. 
The train wouldn’t care. It would go rushing by 
them and tear round the corner and go crashing 
into that awful mound. And every one would be 
killed. Her hands grew very cold and trembled so 
that she could hardly hold the flag. And then 
came the distant rumble and hum of the metals, 
and a puff of white steam showed far away along 
the stretch of line. 

“ Stand firm,” said Peter, “ and wave like mad ! 
When it gets to that big furze bush step back, but 
go on waving ! Don’t stand on the line, Bobbie ! ” 

The train came rattling along very very fast. 

“ They don’t see us ! They won’t see us ! It’s 
all no good ! ” cried Bobbie. 



The two little flags on the line swayed as the 
nearing train shook and loosened the heaps of loose 
stones that held them up. One of them slowly 
leaned over and fell on the line. Bobbie jumped 
forward and caught it up, and waved it; her hands 
did not tremble now. 

“Keep off the line, you silly cuckoo!” said Peter, 

It seemed that the train came on as fast as ever. 
It was very near now 

“ IPs no good,” Bobbie said again. 

“ Stand back ! ” cried Peter, suddenly, and he 
dragged Phyllis back by the arm. 

But Bobbie cried, “ Not yet, not yet!” and waved 
her two flags right over the line. The front of the 
engine looked black and enormous. It’s voice was 
loud and harsh. 

“ Oh, stop, stop, stop ! ” cried Bobbie. No one 
heard her. At least Peter and Phyllis didn’t, for the 
oncoming rush of the train covered the sound of her 
voice with a mountain of sound. But afterwards 
she used to wonder whether the engine itself had 
not heard her. It seemed almost as though it had 
— for it slackened swiftly, slackened and stopped, 
not twenty yards from the place where Bobbie’s 
two flags waved over the line. She saw the great 



black engine stop dead, but somehow she could not 
stop waving the flags. And when the driver and 
the fireman had got ofi the engine and Peter and 
Phyllis had gone to meet them and pour out 
their excited tale of the awful mound just round 
the corner, Bobbie still waved the flags but more 
and more feebly and jerkily. 

When the others turned towards her she was 
lying across the line with her hands flung forward 
and still gripping the sticks of the little red flannel 

The engine-driver picked her up, carried her to 
the train, and laid her on the cushions of a first- 
class carriage. 

“ Gone right off in a faint,” he said, “ poor little 
woman. And no wonder. I’ll just ’ave a look at 
this ’ere mound of yours, and then we’ll run you 
back to the station and get her seen to.” 

It was horrible to see Bobbie lying so white and 
quiet, with her lips blue, and parted. 

“ I believe that’s what people look like when 
they’re dead,” whispered Phyllis. 

“ Don't ! ” said Peter, sharply. 

They sat by Bobbie on the blue cushions, and 
the train ran back. Before it reached their station 
Bobbie had sighed and opened her eyes, and 



rolled herself over and begun to cry. This cheered 
the others wonderfully. They had seen her cry be- 
fore, but they had never seen her faint, nor any one 
else, for the matter of that. They had not known 
what to do when she was fainting, but now she was 
only crying they could thump her on the back and 
tell her not to, just as they always did. And 
presently, when she stopped crying, they were able 
to laugh at her for being such a coward as to faint. 

When the station was reached, the three were 
the heroes of an agitated meeting on the plat- 

The praises they got for their “ prompt action,” 
their “ common sense,” their “ ingenuity,” were 
enough to have turned anybody’s head. Phyllis 
enjoyed herself thoroughly. She had never been a 
real heroine, and the feeling was delicious. Peter’s 
ears got very red. Yet he, too, enjoyed himself. 
Only Bobbie wished they all wouldn’t. She 
wanted to get away. 

“ You’ll hear from the Company about this, I 
expect,” said the Station Master. 

Bobbie wished she might never hear of it again. 
She pulled at Peter’s jacket. 

“ Oh, come away, come away ! I want to go 
home,” she said. 



So they went. And as they went Station Mas- 
ter and Porter and guards and driver and firemen 
and passengers sent up a cheer. 

“ Oh, listen,” cried Phyllis ; “ that’s for us ! ” 

“Yes,” said Peter, “I say, I am glad I thought 
about something red, and waving it.” 

“ How lucky we did put on our red flannel 
petticoats ! ” said Phyllis. 

Bobbie said nothing. She was thinking of the 
horrible mound, and the trustful train rushing 
towards it. 

“ And it was us that saved them,” said Peter. 

“ How dreadful if they’d all been killed ! ” said 
Phyllis, with enjoyment ; “ wouldn’t it, Bobbie ? ” 

“We never got any cherries, after all,” said 

The otheis thought her rather heartless. 



I hope you don’t mind my telling you a good 
deal about Roberta. The fact is I am growing 
very fond of her. The more I observe her the 
more I love her. And I notice all sorts of things 
about her that I should like to notice about you if 
you were my little girl. For instance, she was 
quite oddly anxious to make other people happy. 
And she could keep a secret, a tolerably rare 
accomplishment. Also she had the power of silent 
sympathy. That sounds rather dull, I know, but 
it’s not so dull as it sounds. It just means that a 
person is able to know that you are unhappy, and 
to love you extra on that account, without bother- 
ing you by telling you all the time how sorry she 
is for you. That was what Bobbie was like. 
She knew that Mother was unhappy — and that 
Mother had not told her the reason. So she just 
loved Mother more and never said a single word 
that could let Mother know how earnestly her 
little girl wondered what Mother was unhappy 




about. You might practise doing this. It is not 
so easy as you might think. 

Whatever happened, — and all sorts of nice 
pleasant ordinary things happened, — such as pic- 
nics, games, and buns for tea, Bobbie always had 
these thoughts at the back of her mind. “ Mother’s 
unhappy. Why ? I don’t know. She doesn’t want 
me to know. I won’t try to find out. But she is 
unhappy. Why? I don’t know. She doesn’t — ” 
and so on, repeating and repeating like a tune 
that you don’t know the stopping part of. 

The Russian gentleman still took up a good deal 
of everybody’s thoughts. All the editors and sec- 
retaries of Societies and Members of Parliament 
had answered Mother’s letters as politely as they 
knew how ; but none of them could tell where 
the wife and children of Mr. Cschapansky would 
be likely to be. (Did I tell you that the Russian’s 
very Russian name was that ?) 

Bobbie had another quality which you will hear 
differently described by different people. Some of 
them call it interfering in other people’s business 
— and some call it “ helping lame dogs over stiles,” 
and some call it “ loving-kindness.” It just means 
trying to help people. 

She racked her brains to think of some way of 



helping the Russian gentleman to find his wife and 
children. He had learned a few words of English 
now. He could say “Good morning,” and “Good 
night,” and “ Please,” and “ Thank you,” and 
“ Pretty,” when the children brought him flowers, 
and “Ver’ good,” when they asked him how he 
had slept. 

The way he smiled when he “ said his English,’’ 
was, Bobbie felt, “ just too sweet for anything.” 
She used to think of his face because she fancied 
it would help her to some way of helping him. 
But it did not. Yet his being there cheered her 
because she saw that it made Mother happier. 

“ She likes to have some one to be good to even 
beside us,” said Roberta. “ And I know she hated 
to let him have Father’s clothes. But I suppose it 
4 hurt nice ’ or she wouldn’t have.” 

For many and many a night after the day when 
she and Peter and Phyllis had saved the train 
from wreck by waving their little red flannel flags, 
Bobbie used to wake screaming and shivering, 
seeing again that horrible mound, and the poor 
dear trustful engine rushing on towards it — just 
thinking that it was doing its swift duty, and that 
everything was clear and safe. And then a warm 
thrill of pleasure used to run through her at the 
remembrance of how she and Peter and Phyllis and 



the red flannel petticoats had really saved every- 

One morning a letter came. It was addressed to 
Peter and Bobbie and Phyllis. They opened it 
with enthusiastic curiosity, for they did not often 
get letters. — 

The letter said : 

“ Dear Sir, and Ladies, — It is proposed to 
makea small presentation to you, in commemoration 
of your prompt and courageous action in warning 

the train on the inst., and thus averting what 

must, humanly speaking, have been a terrible acci- 
dent. The presentation will take place at the 

Station at three o’clock on the 30th inst. if this 
time and place will be convenient to you. 

“ Yours faithfully, 

“ Jabez Inglewood. 

“ Secretary Great Northern and Southern Hallway CoP 

There never had been a prouder moment in the 
lives of the three children. They rushed to 
Mother with the letter and she also felt proud and 
said so, and this made the children happier than 

“ But if the presentation is money, you must say, 
6 Thank you, but you’d rather not take it,’ ” said 



Mother. “ I’ll wash your Indian muslins at once,” 
she added. “You must look tidy on an occasion 
like this.” 

“ Phil and I can wash them,” said Bobbie, “ if 
you’ll iron them, Mother.” 

Washing is rather fun. I wonder whether 
you’ve ever done it ? This particular washing took 
place in the back kitchen which had a stone floor 
and a very big stone sink under its window. 

“ Let’s put the bath on the sink,” said Phyllis ; 
“ then we can pretend we’re out-of-doors washer- 
women like Mother saw in France.” 

“ But they were washing in the cold river,” said 
Peter, his hands in his pockets, “ not in hot water.” 

“ This is a hot river, then,” said Phyllis ; “ lend a 
hand with the bath, there’s a dear.” 

“ I should like to see a deer lending a hand,” 
said Peter, but he lent his. 

“Now to rub and scrub and scrub and rub,” 
said Phyllis, hopping joyously about as Bobbie 
carefully carried the heavy kettle from the kitchen 

“ Oh, no ! ” said Bobbie, greatly shocked ; “ you 
don’t rub muslin. You put the boiled soap in the 
hot water and make it all frothy-lathery — and 
then you shake the muslin and squeeze it, ever so 



gently, and all the dirt comes out. It’s only 
clumsy things like tablecloths and sheets that 
have to be rubbed.” 

The sweetbrier and the Gloire de Dijon roses 
outside the window swayed in the soft breeze. 

“ It’s a nice drying day — that’s one thing,” said 
Bobbie, feeling very grown up. “ Oh, I do wonder 
what wonderful feelings we shall have when we 
wear the Indian muslin dresses ! ” 

“ Yes, so do I,” said Phyllis, shaking and squeez- 
ing the muslin in quite a professional manner. 

“ Now we squeeze out the soapy water. No — 
we mustn’t twist them — and then rinse them. 
I’ll hold them while you and Peter empty the bath 
and get clean water.” 

“ A presentation ! That means presents,” said 
Peter, as his sisters, having duly washed the pegs 
and wiped the line, hung up the dresses to dry. 
“ Whatever will it be ? ” 

“ It might be anything,” said Phyllis; “ what 
I’ve always wanted is a Baby elephant — but I 
suppose they wouldn’t know that.” 

“ Suppose it was gold models of steam-engines?” 
said Bobbie. 

“ Or a big model of the scene of the prevented 
accident,” suggested Peter, “with a little model 



train, and dolls dressed like us and the engine- 
driver and fireman and passengers.” 

“ Do you like” said Bobbie, doubtfully, drying 
her hands on the rough towel that hung on a roller 
at the back of the scullery door, “ do you like 
us being rewarded for saving a train ? ” 

“ Yes, I do,” said Peter, downrightly ; “ and 
don’t you try to come it over us that you don’t 
like it, too. Because I know you do.” 

“ Yes,” said Bobbie, doubtfully, “ I know I do. 
But oughtn’t we to be satisfied with just having 
done it, and not ask for anything more ? ” 

“ Who did ask for anything more, silly ? ” said 
her brother. “ Victoria Cross soldiers don’t ask 
for it ; but they’re glad enough to get it all the 
same. Perhaps it’ll be medals. Then when I’m 
very old indeed, I shall show them to my grand- 
children and say, ‘ We only did our duty,’ and 
they’ll be awfully proud of me.” 

“ You have to be married,” warned Phyllis, “or 
you don’t have any grandchildren.” 

“ I suppose I shall have to be married some day,” 
said Peter, “ but it will be an awful bother having 
her round all the time. I’d like to marry a lady 
who had trances, and only woke up once or twice 
a year.” 



“Just to say you were the light of her life and 
then go to sleep again. Yes. That wouldn’t be 
bad,” said Bobbie. 

“When I get married,” said Phyllis, “I shall 
want him to want me to be awake all the time, so 
that I can hear him say how nice I am.” 

“ I think it would be nice,” said Bobbie, “ to 
marry some one very poor, and then you’d do al 
the work and he’d love you most frightfully, and 
see the blue wood smoke curling up among the 
trees from the domestic hearth as he came home 
from work every night. I say — we’ve got to 
answer that letter and say that the time and place 
will be convenient to us. There’s the soap, Peter. 
We’re both as clean as clean. That pink box you 
had on your birthday, Phil.” 

It took some time to arrange what should be 
said. Mother had gone back to her writing, and 
several sheets of pink paper with scalloped gilt 
edges and green four-leaved shamrocks in the 
corner were spoiled before the three had decided 
what to say. Then each made a copy and signed 
it with its own name. 

The threefold letter ran : — 

“Dear Mr. Jabez Inglewood, — Thank you 
very much. We did not want to be rewarded 



but only to save the train, but we are glad you 
think so and thank you very much. The time 
and place you say will be quite convenient to us. 
Thank you very much. 

“ Your affecate little friend,” 

Then came the name, and after it : — 

“ P.S. Thank you very much.” 

“ Washing is much easier than ironing,” said 
Bobbie, taking the clean dry dresses off the line. 
“ I do love to see things come clean. Oh — I 
don’t know how we shall wait till it’s time to 
know what presentation they’re going to present ! ” 
When at last — it seemed a very long time 
after, — it was the day, the three children went 
down to the station at the Proper time. And 
everything that happened was so odd that it 
seemed like a dream. The Station Master came 
out to meet them — in his best clothes, as Peter 
noticed at once — and led them into the waiting 
room where once they had played the advertise- 
ment game. It looked quite different now. A 
carpet had been put down — and there were pots 
of roses on the mantlepiece and on the window 
ledges — green branches stuck up, like holly and 



laurel are at Christmas, over the framed adver- 
tisement of Cook Tours and the Beauties of Devon 
and the Paris Lyons Railway. There were quite a 
number of people there besides the Porter, — two 
or three ladies in smart dresses, and quite a crowd 
of gentlemen in high hats and frock coats — 
besides everybody who belonged to the station. 
They recognized several people who had been in 
the train on the red-flannel-petticoat day. Best 
of all their own old gentleman was there, and 
his coat and hat and collar seemed more than ever 
different from any one else’s. He shook hands with 
them and then everybody sat down on chairs, and 
a gentleman in spectacles — they found out after- 
wards that he was the District Superintendent — 
began quite a long speech — very clever indeed 
I am not going to write the speech down. First, 
because you would think it dull ; and secondly, 
because it made all the children blush so, and get 
so hot about the ears that I am quite anxious to 
get away from this part of the subject ; and thirdly, 
because the gentleman took so many words to say 
what he had to say that I really haven’t time to 
write them down. He said all sorts of nice things 
about the children’s bravery and presence of mind, 
and when he had done he sat down, and every one 
who was there clapped and said, “Hear hear.” 



And then the old gentleman got up and said 
things, too. It was very like a prize-giving. And 
then he called the children one by one, by their 
names, and gave each of them a beautiful gold 
watch and chain. And inside the watches were en- 
graved after the name of the watch’s new owner : — 

“From the Directors of the Northern and South- 
ern Railway in grateful recognition of the coura- 
geous and prompt action which averted an 
accident on 1905.” 

The watches were the most beautiful you can 
possibly imagine, and each one had a blue leather 
case to live in when it was at home. 

“ You must make a speech now and thank every 
one for their kindness,” whispered the Station 
Master in Peter’s ear and pushed him forward. 
“ Begin 4 Ladies and Gentlemen,’ ” he added. 

Each of the children had already said, “ Thank 
you,” quite properly. 

44 0 dear,” said Peter, but, he did not resist the 

44 Ladies and Gentlemen,” he said in a rather 
husky voice. Then there was a pause, and he 
heard his heart beating in his throat. 44 Ladies 
and gentlemen,” he went on with a rush, 44 it’s 
most awfully good of you, and we shall treasure 



the watches all our lives — but really we don’t 
deserve it because what we did wasn’t anything, 
really. At least, I mean it was awfully exciting, 
and w r hat I mean to say — thank you all very, very 

The people clapped Peter more than they had 
done the District Superintendent, and then every- 
bodjr shook hands with them, and as soon as polite- 
ness would let them, they got away, and tore up 
the hill to Three Chimneys, with their watches in 
their hands. 

It was a wonderful day — the kind of day 
that very seldom happens to anybody and to most 
of us not at all. 

“ I did want to talk to the old gentleman about 
something else,” said Bobbie, “ but it was so pub- 
lie — like being in church.” 

“ What did you want to say ? ” asked Phyllis. 

“ I’ll tell you when I’ve thought about it more,” 
said Bobbie. 

So w T hen she had thought a little more she 
wrote a letter. 

« My dearest old gentleman,” it said ; “ I want 
most awfully to ask you something. If you could 
get out of the train and go by the next, it would 
do. I do not want you to give me anything. 



Mother says we ought not to. And besides, we do 
not want any things. Only to talk to you about a 
Prisoner and Captive. Your loving little friend, 

“ Bobbie.” 

She got the Station Master to give the letter to 
the old gentleman, and next day she asked Peter 
and Phyllis to come down to the station with her 
at the time when the train that brought the old 
gentleman from town would be passing through. 

She explained her idea to them — and they 
approved thoroughly. 

They had all washed their hands and faces, and 
brushed their hair, and were looking as tidy as 
they knew how. But Phyllis, always unlucky, 
had upset a jug of lemonade down the front of 
her dress. There was no time to change — and 
the wind happening to blow from the coal yard, 
her frock was soon powdered with gray, which 
stuck to the sticky lemonade stains and made her 
look, as Peter said, “ like any little gutter child.” 

It was decided that she should keep behind the 
others as much as possible. 

“ Perhaps the old gentleman won’t notice,” said 
Bobbie. “ The aged are often weak in the eye.” 

There was no sign of weakness, however, in the 
eyes, or in any other part of the old gentleman, as 



he stepped from the train and looked up and down 
the platform. 

The three children, now that it came to the point, 
suddenly felt that rush of deep shyness which 
makes your ears red and hot, your hands warm 
and wet, and the tip of your nose pink and shiny. 

“ Oh,” said Phyllis, “ my heart’s thumping like 
a steam-engine — right under my sash, too.” 

“ Nonsense,” said Peter, “ people’s hearts aren’t 
under their sashes.” 

“ I don’t care — mine is,” said Phyllis. 

“ If you’re going to talk like a poetry-book,” 
said Peter, “my heart’s in — ” 

“My heart’s in my boots — if you come to 
that,” said Roberta ; “ but do come on — he’ll 
think we’re idiots.” 

“ He won’t be far wrong,” said Peter, gloomily. 
And they went forward to meet the old gentleman. 

“ Hullo,” he said, shaking hands with them all in 
turn. “ This is a very great pleasure.” 

“ It was good of you to get out,” Bobbie said, 
perspiring and polite. 

He took her arm and drew her into the wait- 
ing room where she and the others had played 
the advertisement game the day they found the 
Russian. Phyllis and Peter followed. “Well,” 



said the old gentleman, giving Bobbie’s arm a 
kind little shake before he let it go, “Well? 
What is it?” 

“ Oh, please ! ” said Bobbie. 

“Yes?” said the old gentleman. 

“What I mean to say — ” said Bobbie. 

“ Well ? ” said the old gentleman. 

“ It’s all very nice and kind,” said she. 

“ But ? ” he said. 

“ I wish I might say something,” she said. 

“ Say it,” said he. 

“Well, then,” said Bobbie — and out came the 
story of the Russian who had written the beau- 
tiful book about poor people, and had been sent 
to prison and to Siberia for just that. 

“ And what we want more than anything in 
the world is to find his wife and children for 
him,” said Bobbie, “ but we don’t know how. 
But you must be most horribly clever, or you 
wouldn’t be a Direction of the Railway. And 
if you knew how — and would? We’d rather 
have that than anything else in the world. 
We’d go without the watches, even, if you could 
sell them and find his wife with the money.” 

And the others said so, too, though not with 
so much enthusiasm. 



“Hum,” said the old gentleman, pulling down 
the white waistcoat that had the big gilt 
buttons on it, “what did you say the name was 
— Fryingpansky ? ” 

“ No, no,” said Bobbie, earnestly. “ I’ll write 
it down for you. It doesn’t really look at all 
like that except when you say it. Have you a bit 
of pencil and the back of an envelope ? ” she asked. 

The old gentleman got out a gold pencil-case 
and a beautiful, sweet-smelling, green Russia 
leather note-book and opened it at a new page. 

“ Here,” he said, “ write here.” 

She wrote down, “ Szezcpansky,” and said : — 

“That’s how you write it. You call it She- 

The old gentleman took out a pair of gold- 
rimmed spectacles and fitted them on his nose. 
When he had read the name, he looked quite 

“ That man ? Bless my soul ! ” he said. “ Why, 
I’ve read his book ! It’s translated into every 
European language. A fine book — a noble 
book. And so your Mother took him in — like 
the good Samaritan. Well, well. I’ll tell you 
what, youngsters — your Mother must be a very 
good woman.” 



“ Of course she is,” said Phyllis, in astonish- 

“ And you’re a very good man,” said Bobbie, 
very shy, but firmly resolved to be polite. 

“You flatter me,” said the old gentleman, tak- 
ing off his hat with a flourish. “ And now am 
I to tell you what I think of you ? ” 

“ Oh, please don’t,” said Bobbie, hastily. 

“ Why ? ” asked the old gentleman. 

“ I don’t exactly know,” said Bobbie. “ Only 

— if it’s horrid, I don’t want you to ; and if it’s 
nice, I’d rather you didn’t.” 

The old gentleman laughed. 

“ Well, then,” he said, “ I’ll only just say 
that I’m very glad you came to me about this 

— very glad, indeed. And I shouldn’t be sur- 
prised if I found out something very soon. I 
know a great many Russians in London, and 
every Russian knows his name. Now tell me 
all about yourselves.” 

He turned to the others, but there was only 
one other, and that was Peter. Phyllis had dis- 

“ Tell me all about yourself,” said the old gen- 
tleman again. And, quite naturally, Peter was 
stricken dumb. 



“ All right, we’ll have an examination,” said the 
old gentleman ; “ you two sit on the table, and I’ll 
sit on the bench and ask questions.” 

He did, and out came their names and ages — 
their Father’s name and business — how long they 
had lived at Three Chimneys and a great deal 

The questions were beginning to turn on a her- 
ring and a half for three halfpence, and a pound of 
lead, and a pound of feathers, when the door of 
the waiting room was kicked open by a boot; 
as the boot came in every one could see that its 
lace was coming undone — and in came Phyllis, 
very slowly and carefully. 

In one hand she carried a large tin can, and in 
the other a thick slice of bread and butter. 

“ Afternoon tea,” she announced proudly, and 
held the can and the bread and butter out to the 
old gentleman who took them and said : — 

“ Bless my soul ! ” 

“Yes,” said Phyllis. 

“ It’s very thoughtful of you,” said the old 
gentleman, “very.” 

« But you might have got a cup,” said Bobbie, 
“ and a plate.” 

“ Perks always drinks out of the can,” said 


Phyllis, flushing red. “I think it was very nice 
of him to give it me at all — let alone cups and 
plates,” she added. 

“ So do I,” said the old gentleman, and he 
drank some of the tea and tasted the bread and 

And then it was time for the next train, and he 
got into it with many good-bys and kind last 

“ Well,” said Peter, when they were left on the 
platform, and the tail-lights of the train disap- 
peared round the corner, “ it’s my belief that we’ve 
lighted a candle to-day, — like Latimer, you know, 
when he was being burned, — and there’ll be fire- 
works for our Russian before long.” 

And so there was. 

It wasn’t ten days after the interview in the 
waiting room that the three children were sitting 
on the top of the biggest rock in the field below 
their house watching the 5.15 steam away from 
the station along the bottom of the valley. They 
saw too, the few people who had got out at the 
station straggling up the road towards the vil- 
lage — and they saw one person leave the road 
and open the gate that led across the fields to 
Three Chimneys and to nowhere else. 



“ Who on earth ! ” said Peter, scrambling down. 

“ Let’s go and see,” said Phyllis. 

So they did. And when they got near enough 
to see who the person was, they saw it was their 
old gentleman himself, his brass buttons winking 
in the afternoon sunshine, and his white waistcoat 
looking whiter than ever against the green of the 

“ Hullo!” shouted the children, waving their 

“ Hullo ! ” shouted the old gentleman, waving 
his hat. 

Then the three started to run — and when they 
got to him they hardly had breath left to say : — 

“ How do you do ? ” 

“ Good news,” said he. “ I’ve found your Rus- 
sian friend’s wife and child — and I couldn’t resist 
the temptation of giving myself the pleasure of 
telling him.” 

But as he looked at Bobbie’s face he felt that he 
could resist that temptation. 

« Here,” he said to her, “ you run on and tell 
him. The other two will show me the way.” 

Bobbie ran. But when she had breathlessly 
panted out her news to the Russian and Mother 
sitting in the quiet garden — when Mother’s face 



had lighted up so beautifully, and she had said 
half a dozen quick French words to the Exile — 
Bobbie wished that she had not carried the news. 
For the Russian sprang up with a cry that made 
Bobbie’s heart leap and then tremble, — a cry of 
love and longing such as she had never heard. 
Then he took Mother’s hand and kissed it gently 
and reverently — and then he sank down in his 
chair and covered his face with his hands and 
sobbed. Bobbie crept away. She did not want 
to see the others just then. 

But she was as gay as anybody when the end- 
less French talking was over, when Peter had 
torn down to the village for buns and cakes, and 
the girls had got tea ready and taken it out into 
the garden. 

The old gentleman was most merry and delight- 
ful. He seemed to be able to talk in French and 
English almost at the same moment, and Mother 
did nearly as well. It was a delightful time. 
Mother seemed as if she could not make enough 
fuss about the old gentleman, and she said yes at 
once when he asked if he might present some 
“ goodies ” to his little friends. 

The word was new to the children — but they 
guessed that it meant sweets, for the three large 



pink and green boxes, tied with green ribbon, 
which he took out of his bag, held unheard-of 
layers of beautiful chocolates. 

The Russian’s few belongings were packed, and 
they all saw him off at the station. 

Then Mother turned to the old gentleman and 
said : — 

“ I don’t know how to thank you for everything. 
It has been a real pleasure to me to see you. But 
we live very quietly. I am so sorry that I can’t 
ask you to come and see us again.” 

The children thought this very hard. When 
they had made a friend — and such a friend — 
they would dearly have liked him to come and 
see them again. 

What the old gentleman thought they couldn’t 
tell. He only said : — 

“ I consider myself very fortunate, Madam, to 
have been received once at your house.” 

“ Ah,” said Mother, “ I know I must seem surly 
and ungrateful — but — ” 

“You could never seem anything but a most 
charming and gracious lady,” said the old gentle- 
man, with another of his bows. 

And as they turned to go up the hill, Bobby saw 
her Mother’s face. 



“ How tired you look, Mammy,” she said ; “ lean 
on me.” 

“ It’s my place to give Mother my arm,” said 
Peter. “ I’m the head man of the family when 
Father’s away.” 

Mother took an arm of each. 

“ How awfully nice,” said Phyllis, skipping 
jojHully, “ to think of the dear Russian embracing 
his long-lost wife. The baby must have grown 
a lot since he saw it.” 

“ Yes,” said Mother. 

“ I wonder whether Father will think Fve 
grown,” Phyllis went on, skipping still more gaily. 
“ I have grown already, haven’t I, Mother ? ” 

« Yes,” said Mother, “ oh, yes,” and Bobbie and 
Peter felt her hands tighten on their arms. 

“ Poor old Mammy, you are tired,” said Peter. 

Bobbie said, “ Come on, Phil ; I’ll race you to 
the gate.” 

And she started the race, though she hated doing 
it. You know why Bobbie did that. Mother 
only thought that Bobby was tired of walking 
slowly. Even Mothers, who love you better than 
any one else ever will, don’t always understand. 



“ That’s a likely little brooch you’ve got on, 
Miss,” said Perks the Porter; “ I don’t know as ever 
I see a thing more like a buttercup without it was 
a buttercup.” 

“ Yes,” said Bobbie, glad and flushed by this 
approval. “ I always thought it was more like a 
buttercup almost than even a real one, — and I 
never thought it would come to be mine, my very 
own — and then Mother gave it to me for my 

“ Oh — have you had a birthday ? ” said Perks ; 
and he seemed quite surprised, as though a birth- 
day were a thing only granted to a favoured few. 

“Yes,” said Bobbie; “when’s your birthday, Mr. 
Perks ? ” The children were taking tea with Mr. 
Perks in the Porter’s room among the lamps and 
the railway almanacs. They had brought their 
own cups and some jam turnovers. Mr. Perks 
made tea in a beer can, as usual, and every one felt 
very happy and confidential. 

M 161 



“ My birthday ? ” said Perks, tipping some more 
dark brown tea out of the can into Peter’s cup. 
“ I give up keeping of my birthday afore you was 

“ But you must have been born sometime , you 
know,” said Phyllis, thoughtfully, “ even if it was 
twenty years ago — or thirty or sixty or seventy.” 

“ Not so long as that, Missis,” Perks grinned 
as he answered. “ If you really want to know, it 
was thirty-two years ago, come the fifteenth of this 

“ Then why don’t you keep it ? ” asked Phyllis. 

“ I’ve got something else to keep besides birth- 
days,” said Perks, briefly. 

“ Oh ! What ? ” asked Phyllis, eagerly, “ not 
secrets ? ” 

“ No,” said Perks, “ the kids and the Missus.” 

It was this talk that set the children thinking, 
and, presently, talking. Perks was, on the whole, 
the dearest friend they had made. Not so grand 
as the Station Master, but more approachable — 
less powerful than the old gentleman, but more 

“ It seems horrid that nobody keeps his birth- 
day,” said Bobbie. “ Couldn’t we do something ? ” 

“Let’s go up to the Canal bridge and talk it 



over,” said Peter. “ I got a new gut line from 
the postman this morning. He gave it me for a 
bunch of roses for his sweetheart. She’s ill.” 

“ Then I do think you might have given her the 
roses for nothing,” said Bobbie, indignantly. 

“ Nyang, nyang ! ” said Peter, disagreeably, and 
put his hands in his pockets. 

“ He did, of course,” said Phyllis, in haste ; “ di- 
rectly we heard she was ill we got the roses ready 
and waited by the gate. It was when you were 
making the brekker-toast. And when he’d said 
‘ Thank-you ’ for the roses so many times, — much 
more than he need have, — he pulled out the line 
and gave it to Peter. It wasn’t exchange. It was 
the grateful heart.” 

“ Oh, I beg your pardon, Peter,” said Bobbie, 
“ I am so sorry.” 

“ Don’t mention it,” said Peter, grandly, “ I knew 
you would be.” 

So then they all went up to the Canal bridge. 
The idea was to fish from the bridge, but the line 
was not quite long enough. 

“ Never mind,” said Bobbie. “ Let’s just stay 
here and look at things. Everything’s so beautiful.” 

It was. The sun was setting in red splendour 
over the gray and purple hills, and the canal lay 



smooth and shiny in the shadow — no ripple 
broke its surface. It was like a gray satin ribbon 
between the dusky green silk of the meadows that 
were on each side of its banks. 

“ It’s all right,” said Peter, “ but somehow I 
can always see how pretty things are much better 
when I’ve something to do. Let’s get down 
on to the tow-path and fish from there.” 

Phyllis and Bobbie remembered how the boys 
on the canal-boats had thrown coal at them, and 
they said so. 

« Oh, nonsense,” said Peter. « There aren’t 
any boys here now. If there were, I’d fight 

Peter’s sisters were kind enough not to remind 
him how he had not fought the boys when last 
coal had been thrown. Instead they said, “ All 
right, then,” and cautiously climbed down the 
steep bank to the towing-path. The line was 
carefully bated, and for half an hour they fished 
patiently and in vain. Not a single nibble came 
to nourish hope in their hearts. 

All eyes were intent on the sluggish waters 
that earnestly pretended they had never harboured, 
a single minnow when a loud rough shout made 
them start. 



“ Hi ! ” said the shout, in most disagreeable tones, 
“ get out of that, can’t you ? ” 

An old white horse coming along the towing- 
path was within half a dozen yards of them. 
They sprang to their feet and hastily climbed up 
the bank. 

“We’ll slip down again when they’ve gone by,” 
said Bobbie. 

But, alas, the barge, after the manner of barges, 
stopped under the bridge. 

“ She’s going to anchor,” said Peter ; “ just our 
luck ! ” 

The barge did not anchor, because an anchor 
is not part of a canal-boat’s furniture, but she was 
moored with ropes fore and aft — and the ropes 
were made fast to the palings and to crowbars 
driven into the ground. 

“ What you staring at ? ” growled the Bargee, 

“We weren’t staring,” said Bobbie; “we 
wouldn’t be so rude.” 

“ Rude be blessed,” said the man ; “ get along 
with you ! ” 

“ Get along yourself,” said Peter. He remem- 
bered what he had said about fighting boys, and, 
besides, he felt safe halfway up the bank. “ We’ve 
as much right here as any one else.” 



“ Oh, ’ ave you, indeed ? ” said the man. “ We’ll 
soon see about that.” And he came across his 
deck and began to climb down the side of his 

“ Oh, come away, Peter, come away ! ” said 
Bobbie and Phyllis, in agonized unison. 

“ Not me,” said Peter, “ but you'd better.” 

The girls climbed to the top of the bank and 
stood ready to bolt for home as soon as they saw 
their brother out of danger. The way home lay 
all down hill. They knew that they all ran well. 
The Bargee did not look as if he did. He was 
red-faced, heavy, and beefy. 

But as soon as his foot was on the towing-path 
the children saw that they had misjudged him. 

He made one spring up the bank, and caught 
Peter by the leg, dragged him down — set him on 
his feet with a shake — took him by the ear — and 
said sternly : — 

Now, then, what do you mean by it ? Don’t 
you know these ’ere waters is preserved ? You 
ain’t no right catching fish ’ere — not to say noth- 
ing of your precious cheek.” 

Peter was always proud afterwards when he 
remembered that, with the Bargee’s furious fingers 
tightening on his ear, the Bargee’s crimson coun- 



tenance close to his own, the Bargee’s hot breath 
on his neck, he had the courage to speak the truth. 

“ I wasn't catching fish,” said Peter. 

“That’s not your fault, I’ll be bound,” said the 
man, giving Peter’s ear a twist — not a hard one — 
but still a twist. 

Peter could not say that it was. Bobbie and 
Phyllis had been holding on to the railings above 
and skipping with anxiety. Now suddenly Bobbie 
slipped through the railings and rushed down the 
bank towards Peter, so impetuously that Phyllis, 
following more temperately, felt certain that her 
sister’s descent would end in the waters of the 
canal. And so it would have done if the Bargee 
hadn’t let go of Peter’s ear — and caught her in 
his jersey ed arm. 

“ Who are you a-shoving of ? ” he said, setting 
her on her feet. 

“ Oh,” said Bobbie, breathless, “ Pm not shoving 
anybody. At least, not on purpose. Do, please, 
don’t be cross with Peter. Of course, if it’s your 
canal, we’re sorry and we won’t any more. But 
we didn’t know it was yours.” 

“ Go along with you,” said the Bargee. 

“Yes, we will; indeed we will,” said Bobbie, 
earnestly; “but we do beg your pardon — and 



really we haven’t caught a single fish. I’d tell 
you directly if we had, honour bright I would.” 

She held out her hands and Phyllis turned out 
her little empty pocket to shew that really they 
hadn’t any fish concealed about them. 

“Well,” said the Bargee, more gently, “cut 
along, then, and don’t you do it again, that’s 

The children hurried up the bank. 

“ Chuck us a coat, M’ria,” shouted the man. 
And a red-haired woman in a green plaid shawl 
came out from the cabin door with a baby in 
her arms and threw T a coat to him. He "put it 
on, climbed the bank, and slouched along across 
the bridge towards the village. 

“You’ll find me up at the Rose and Crown 
when you’ve got the kid to sleep,” he called to 
her from the bridge. 

When he was out of sight the children slowly 
returned. Peter insisted on this. 

“ The canal may belong to him,” he said, 
“ though I don’t believe it does. But the bridge 
is everybody’s. Doctor Forrest told me it’s public 
property. I’m not going to be bounced off the 
bridge by him or any one else, so I tell you.” 

Peter’s ear was still sore and so were his 



The girls followed him as gallant soldiers 
might follow the leader of a forlorn hope. 

“ I do wish you wouldn’t,” was all they said. 

“ Go home if you’re afraid,” said Peter , « leave 
me alone. Pm not afraid.” 

The sound of the man’s footsteps died away 
along the quiet road. The peace of the evening 
was not broken by the notes of the sedge-warblers 
or by the voice of the woman in the barge, sing- 
ing her baby to sleep. It was a sad song she 
sang. Something about Bill Bailey and how she 
wanted him to come home. 

The children stood leaning their arms on the 
parapet of the bridge ; they were glad to be quiet 
for a few minutes because all three hearts were 
beating much more quickly than is at all com- 

“ I’m not going to be driven away by any old 
bargeman, I’m not,” said Peter, thickly. 

“ Of course not,” Phyllis said soothingly ; “ you 
didn’t give in to him ! So now we might go 
home, don’t you think ? ” 

“JVb,” said Peter. 

Nothing more was said till the woman got off 
the barge, climbed the bank, and came across 
the bridge. 


She hesitated, looking at the three backs of the 
children, then she said, “ Ahem.” 

Peter stayed as he was, but the girls looked 

« You mustn’t take no notice of my Bill,” said 
the woman ; “ ’is bark’s worsen ’is bite. Some of 
the kids down Farley way is fair terrors. It was 
them put ’is back up calling out about who ate 
the puppy-pie under Marlowe bridge.” 

“ Why did f ” asked Phyllis. 

“ I dunno,” said the woman. “ Nobody don’t 
know ! But for somehow, and I don’t know the 
why nor the wherefore of it, them words is pison 
to a barge-master. Don’t you take no notice. 
’E won’t be back for two hours good. You 
might catch a power o’ fish afore that. The 
light’s good an’ all,” she added. 

“ Thank you,” said Bobbie. “ You’re very kind. 
Where’s your baby ? ” 

“ Asleep in the cabin,” said the woman. « ’E’s 
all right. Never wakes afore twelve. Reglar as a 
church-clock, ’e is.” 

“ I’m sorry,” said Bobbie ; “ I would have liked 
to see him, close to.” 

“ And a finer you never did see, Miss, though I 
says it,” the woman’s face brightened as she spoke. 



“ Aren’t you afraid to leave it ? ” said Peter. 

“ Lor love you, no,” said the woman ; “ who’d 
hurt a little thing like ’im ? Besides, Spot’s there. 
So long ! ” 

The woman went away. 

“ Shall we go home ? ” said Phyllis. 

“ You can. I’m going to fish,” said Peter, 

“ I thought we came up here to talk about 
Perk’s birthday,” said Phyllis. 

“ Perk’s birthday’ll keep.” 

So they got down on the towing-path again, and 
Peter fished. He did not catch anything. 

It was almost quite dark, the girls were getting 
tired, and, as Bobbie said, it was past bed-time, 
when suddenly Phyllis cried, “ What’s that ? ” 

And she pointed to the canal-boat. Smoke was 
coming from the chimney of the cabin, had indeed 
been curling softly into the soft evening air all the 
time — but now other wreaths of smoke were ris- 
ing, and these were from the cabin door. 

“ It’s on fire — that’s all,” said Peter, calmly. 
“ Serve him right.” 

“ Oh — how can you ? ” cried Phyllis. “ Think 
of the poor dear dog.” 

“ The Baby J ” screamed Bobbie. 



In an instant all three made for the barge. 

Her mooring ropes were slack, and the little 
breeze, hardly streng enough to be felt, had yet 
been strong enough to drift her stern against the 
bank. Bobbie was first — then came Peter, and it 
was Peter who slipped and fell. He went into the 
canal up to his neck, and his feet could not feel the 
bottom, but his arm was on the edge of the barge. 
Phyllis caught at his hair. It hurt, but it helped 
him to get out. Next minute he had leaped on to 
the barge, Phyllis following. 

“ Not you ! ” he shouted to Bobbie ; “ Me, because 
Pm wet.” 

He caught up with Bobbie at the cabin door, 
and flung her aside very roughly indeed ; if they 
had been playing, such roughness would have made 
Bobbie weep tears of rage and pain. Now, though 
he flung her on to the edge of the hold, so that her 
knee and her elbow were grazed and bruised, she 
only cried : — 

“ No — not you — Me” and struggled up again. 
But not quickly enough. 

Peter had already gone down two of the cabin 
steps into the cloud of thick smoke. He stopped, 
remembered all he had ever heard of fires, pulled 
his soaked handkerchief out of his breast pocket 


and tied it over his mouth. As he pulled it out he 
said : — 

“ It’s all right, hardly any fire at all.” 

And this, though he thought it was a lie, was 
rather good of Peter. It was meant to keep 
Bobbie from rushing after him into danger. Of 
course it didn’t. 

The cabin glowed red. A paraffin lamp was 
burning calmly in an orange mist. 

“ Hi,” said Peter, lifting the handkerchief from 
his mouth for a moment. “ Hi, Baby — where are 
you ? ” He choked. 

“ Oh, let me go,” cried Bobbie, close behind him. 
Peter pushed her back more roughly than before, 
and went on. 

Now what would have happened if the baby 
hadn’t cried I don’t know — but just at that 
moment it did cry. Peter felt his w T ay through 
the dark smoke, found something small and soft 
and warm and alive, picked it up and backed out, 
nearly tumbling over Bobbie who was close behind. 
A dog snapped at his leg — tried to bark, choked. 

“ I’ve got the kid,” said Peter, tearing off the 
handkerchief and staggering on to the deck. 

Bobbie caught at the place where the bark came 
from, and her hands met on the fat back of a 



moth-haired dog. It turned and fastened its 
teeth on her hand, but very gently, as much as to 
say: — 

“ I’m bound to bark and bite if strangers come 
into my master’s cabin, but I know you mean well, 
so I won’t really bite.” 

Bobbie dropped the dog. 

“ All right, old man. Good dog,” said she. 
“Here — give me the baby, Peter; you’re so wet 
you’ll give it cold.” 

Peter was only too glad to hand over the strange 
little bundle that squirmed and whimpered in his 

“Now,” said Bobbie, quickly, “you run straight 
to the Rose and Crown and tell them. Phil and I 
will stay here with the precious. Hush, then, a 
dear, a duck, a darling ! Go now , Peter ! Run ! ” 

“ I can’t run in these things,” said Peter, firmly ; 
“ they’re as heavy as lead. I’ll walk.” 

« Then Til run,” said Bobbie. “ Get on the bank, 
Phil, and I’ll hand you the dear.” 

The baby was carefully handed. Phyllis sat 
down on the bank and tried to hush the baby. 
Peter wrung the water from his sleeves and 
knicker-bocker legs as well as he could, and it was 
Bobbie who ran like the wind across the bridge 



and up the long white quiet twilit road towards the 
Rose and Crown. 

There is a nice old-fashioned room at the Rose 
and Crown where Bargees and their wives sit of an 
evening drinking their supper beer, and toasting 
their supper cheese at a glowing basketful of coals 
that sticks out into the room under a great hooded 
chimney and is warmer and prettier and more 
comforting than any other fireplace / eve r saw. 

There was a pleasant party of barge people 
round the fire. You might not have thought it 
pleasant, but they did ; for they were all friends or 
acquaintances, and they liked the same sort of 
things, and talked the same sort of talk. This is 
the real secret of pleasant society. The Bargee 
Bill, whom the children had found so disagreeable, 
was considered excellent company by his mates. 
He was telling a tale of his own wrongs — always a 
thrilling subject. It was his barge he was speaking. 

“ And ’e sent down word ‘ paint her insidehout,’ 
not namin’ no color, d’ye see ? So I gets a lotter 
green paint and I paints her stern to stern, and I 
tell yer she looked A 1. Then ’0 comes along and 
’e says, ‘Wot yer paint ’er all one colour for?’ ’e 
says. And I says, says I, ‘ Cause I thought she’d 
look fust-rate says I, ‘and I think so still.’ An’ 



he says ‘ Dew yer ? Then ye can just pay for the 
bloomin’ paint yerself,’ says he. An’ I ’ad to, 
too.” A murmur of sympathy ran round the room. 
Breaking noisily in on it came Bobbie. She burst 
open the swing door — crying breathlessly : — 

“ Bill ! I want Bill the Bargeman.” 

There was a stupefied silence. Pots of beer 
were held in mid-air, paralysed on their way to 
thirsty mouths. 

“ Oh,” said Bobbie, seeing the bargewoman and 
making for her. “ Your barge cabin’s on fire. Go 

The woman started to her feet, and put a big 
red hand to her waist, on the left side, where 
your heart seems to be when you are frightened or 

“ Reginald Horace ! ” she cried in a terrible voice ; 
“ my Reginald Horace ! ” 

“ All right,” said Bobbie, “if you mean the 
baby ; got him out safe. Dog, too.” She had no 
breath for more except, “ Go on — it’s all alight.” 

Then she sank on the ale-house bench and tried 
to get that breath of relief after running which 
people call the “second wind.” But she felt as 
though she would never breathe again. 

Bill the Bargee rose slowly and heavily. But his 



wife was a hundred yards up the road before he 
had quite understood what was the matter. 

Phyllis, shivering by the canal side, had hardly 
heard the quick approaching feet before the woman 
had flung herself on the railing, rolled down the 
bank, and snatched the baby from her. 

“Don’t,” said Phyllis, reproachfully; “Pd just 
got him to sleep.” 


Bill came up later talking in a language with 
which the children were wholly unfamiliar. He 
leaped on to the barge and dipped up pails of 
water. Peter helped him and they put out the 
fire. Phyllis, the bargewoman, and the baby — 
and presently Bobby, too, — cuddled together in a 
heap on the bank. 

“ Lord help me, if it was me left anything as 
could catch alight,” said the woman again and again. 

But it wasn’t she. It was Bill the Bargeman, 
who had knocked his pipe out and the red ash had 
fallen on the hearth-rug, and smouldered there and 
at last broken into flame. Though a stern man he 
was just. He did not blame his wife for what 
was his own fault as many bargemen, and other 

men, too, would have done. 





Mother was half wild with anxiety when at last 
the three children turned up at Three Chimneys, 
all very wet by now, for Peter seemed to have 
come off on the others. But when she had dis- 
entangled the truth of what had happened from 
their mixed and incoherent narrative, she owned 
that they had done quite right, and could not pos- 
sibly have done otherwise. Nor did she put any 
obstacles in the way of their accepting the cordial 
invitation with w T hich the bargeman had parted 
from them. 

“ Ye be here at seven to-morrow,” he had said, 
“and I’ll take you the entire trip to Farley and 
back, so I will, and not a penny to pay. Nineteen 
locks ! ” 

They did not know what locks were ; but they 
were at the bridge at seven, with bread and cheese 
and half a soda cake, and quite a quarter of a leg 
of mutton in a basket. 

It was a glorious day. The old white horse 
strained at the ropes, the barge glided smoothly 
and steadily through the still water. The sky was 
blue overhead. Mr. Bill was as nice as any one 
could possibly be. No one would have thought 
that he could be the same man who had held Peter 
by the ear. As for Mrs. Bill, she had always been 



nice, as Bobbie said, and so had the baby, and even 
Spot, who might have bitten them quite badly if 
he had liked. 

“ It was simply ripping, Mother,” said Peter, 
when they reached home very happy, very tired, 
and very dirty, “ right over that glorious aqueduct. 
And locks — you don’t know what they’re like. 
You sink into the ground and then when you feel 
you’re never going to stop going down, two great 
great black gates open"slowly, slowly — you go out, 
and there you are on the canal just like you were 

“ I know,” said Mother, “ there are locks on the 
Thames. Father and I used to go on the river at 
. Marlowe before we were married.” 

“ And the dear, darling, ducky baby,” said Bob- 
bie ; “ it let me nurse it for ages and ages — and it 
was so good. Mother, I wish we had a baby to 
play with.” 

“ And everybody was so nice to us,” said Phyllis, 
“ everybody we met. And they say we may fish 
whenever we like. And Bill is going to shew us 
the way next time he’s in these parts. He says 
we don’t know really.” 

“He said you didn’t know,” said Peter; “but, 
Mother, he said he’d tell all the bargees up and 



down the canal that we were the real, right sort, 
and they were to treat us like good pals, as we 

“ So then I said,” Phyllis interrupted, “ we’d 
always each wear a red ribbon when we went 
fishing by the canal, so they’d know it was Us , 
and we were the real, right sort, and be nice 
to us ! ” 

“ So you’ve made another lot of friends,” 
said Mother ; “ first the railway and then the 
canal ! ” 

“ Oh, yes,” said Bobbie ; “ I think every one in 
the world is friends if you can only get them to see 
you don’t want to be -im-friends.” 

“Perhaps you’re right,” said Mother; and she 
sighed. “Come, Chicks. It’s high Bed-time.” 

“Yes,” said Phyllis. “O dear — and we went 
up there to talk about what we’d do for Perks’s 
birthday. And we haven’t talked a single thing 
about it !” 

“No more we have,” said Bobbie; “but Peter’s 
saved Reginald Horace’s life. I think that’s about 
good enough for one evening.” 

“ Bobbie would have saved him if I hadn’t 
knocked her down ; twice I did,” said Peter, 



“ So would I,” said Phyllis, “ if I’d known what 
to do.” 

“ Yes,” said Mother, “ you’ve saved a little child’s 
life. I do think that’s enough for one evening. 
Oh, my darlings, thank God you're all safe ! ” 



It was breakfast-time. Mother’s face was very 
bright as she poured the milk and ladled out the 

“ I’ve sold another story, Chickies,” she said ; 
“ the one about the King of the Mussels, so there’ll 
be buns for tea. You can go and get them as soon 
as they’re baked. About eleven, isn’t it ? ” 

Peter, Phyllis, and Bobbie exchanged glances 
with each other, six glances in all. Then Bobbie 
said : — 

“ Mother, would you mind if we didn’t have the 
buns for tea to-night, but on the fifteenth ? That’s 
next Thursday.” 

“ I don’t mind when you have them, dear,” said 
Mother, “ but why ? ” 

“ Because it’s Perks’s birthday,” said Bobbie ; 
“he’s thirty-two, and he says he doesn’t keep his 
birthday any more, because he’s got other things 
to keep — not rabbits or secrets — but the kids 
and the missus.” 




“You mean his wife and children,” said Mother. 

“Yes,” said Phyllis; “it’s the * same thing, 
isn’t it?” 

“ And we thought we’d make a nice birthday 
for him. He’s been so awfully jolly decent to us, 
you know, Mother,” said Peter, “and we agreed 
that next bun-day we’d ask you if we could.” 

“ But suppose there hadn’t been a bun-day be- 
fore the fifteenth ? ” said Mother. 

“ Oh, then, we meant to ask you to let us anti — 
antipate it, and go without when the bun-day 

“ Anticipate,” said Mother, “ I see. Certainly, 
it would be nice to put his name on the buns with 
pink sugar, wouldn’t it ? ” 

“ Perks,” said Peter ;“ it’s not a pretty name.” 

“ His other name’s Albert,” said Phyllis ; « I 
asked him once.” 

“We might put A. P.,” said Mother; “I’ll show 
you how when the day comes.” 

This was all very well as far as it went. But 
even fourteen halfpenny buns with A. P. on them 
in pink sugar do not of themselves make a very 
grand celebration. 

“There are always flowers, of course,” said 
Bobbie, later, when a really earnest council was 



being held on the subject in the hay -loft where 
the broken chaff-cutting machine was, and the row 
of holes to drop hay through into the hay-racks 
over the mangers of the stables below. 

« He’s got lots of flowers of his own,” said Peter. 

“ But it’s always nice to have them given you,” 
said Bobbie, “however many you’ve got of your 
own. We can use flowers for trimmings to the 
birthday. But there must be something to trim 
besides buns.” 

“ Let’s all be quiet and think,” said Phyllis ; “ no 
one’s to speak until it’s thought of something. ” 

So they were all quiet and so very still that a 
brown rat thought that there w^as no one in the 
loft and came out very boldly. When Bobbie 
sneezed the rat was quite shocked and hurried 
away, for he said that a hay-loft where such things 
could happen was no place for a respectable 
middle-aged rat that liked a quiet life. 

“ Hooray ! ” cried Peter, suddenly, “ I’ve got it.” 
He jumped up and kicked at the loose hay. 

“ What ? ” said the others, eagerly. 

“ Why, Perks is so nice to everybody. There 
must be lots of people in the village who’d like to 
help to make him a birthday. Let’s go round and 
ask everybody.” 



“ Mother said we weren’t to ask people for 
things, ” said Bobby, doubtfully. 

“ For ourselves, she meant, silly, not for other 
people. I’ll ask the old gentlemen, too. You see 
if I don’t,” said Peter. 

“ Let’s ask Mother first,” said Bobbie. 

“ Oh, what’s the use of bothering Mother about 
every little thing ? ” said Peter, “ especially when 
she’s busy. Come on. Let’s go down to the vil- 
lage now and begin.” 

So they went. The old lady at the Post-office 
said she didn’t see why Perks should have a birth- 
day any more than any one else. 

“ No,” said Bobbie, “ I should like every one to 
have one. Only we know when his is.” 

“ Mine’s to-morrow,” said the old lady, “ and 
much notice any one will take of it. Go along 
with you.” 

So they went. 

And some people were kind, and some were 
crusty. And some would give and some would 
not. It is rather difficult work asking for things, 
even for other people, as you have no doubt found 
it if you have ever tried it. 

When the children got home and counted up 
what had been given and what had been promised, 



they felt that for the first day it was not so bad. 
Peter wrote down the lists of the things in the 
little pocket-book where he kept the numbers of his 
engines. These were the lists. 


A tobacco pipe from the sweet shop. 

Half a pound of tea from the grocer’s. 

A woolen scarf slightly faded from the draper’s? 
which was the other side of the grocer’s. 

A stuffed squirrel from the Doctor. 


A piece of meat from the butcher. 

Six fresh eggs from the woman who lived in the 
old turnpike cottage. 

A piece of honey-comb and six bootlaces from 
the cobbler, and an iron shovel from the 

Very early next morning Bobbie got up and 
woke Phyllis. This had been agreed on between 
them. They had not told Peter because they 
thought he would think it silly. But they told 
him afterwards, when it had turned out all 

They cut a big bunch of roses, and put it in 
a basket with the needle-book that Phyllis had 



made for Bobbie on her birthday, and a very 
pretty blue necktie of Phyllis’s. Then they wrote 
on a paper, “ For Mrs. Ransome, with our best 
love because it is her birthday,” and they put 
the paper in the basket, and they took it to the 
Post-office, and went in and put it on the 
counter and ran away before the old woman at 
the Post-office had time to get into her shop. 

When they got home Peter had grown confi- 
dential over helping Mother to get the breakfast 
and had told her their plans. 

“ There’s no harm in it,” said Mother, “ but 
it depends how you do it. I only hope he won’t 
be offended and think it’s charity. Poor people 
are very proud, you know.” 

“ It isn’t because he’s poor,” said Phyllis ; “ it’s 
because we’re fond of him.” 

“ I’ll find some things that Phyllis has outgrown,” 
said Mother, “ if you’re quite sure you can give 
them to him without his being offended. I 
should like to do some little thing for him 
because he’s been so kind to you. I can’t do 
much because we’re poor ourselves. What are 
you writing, Bobbie ? ” 

“ Nothing particular,” said Bobbie, who had 
suddenly begun to scribble. “ Pm sure he’d like 
the things, Mother.” 



The morning of the fifteenth was spent very 
happily in getting the buns and watching Mother 
make A. P. on them with pink sugar. You know 
how it’s done, of course ? You beat up whites of 
eggs and mix powdered sugar with them, and put 
a few drops of cochineal. And then you make a 
cone of clean, white paper with a little hole at the 
pointed end, and put the pink egg-sugar in at the 
big end. It runs slowly out at the pointed end, 
and you write the letters with it just as though it 
were a great fat pen full of pink sugar-ink. 

The buns looked beautiful with A. P. on every 
one, and, when they were put in a cool oven to set 
the sugar, the children went up to the village to 
collect the honey and the shovel and the other 
promised things. 

The old lady at the Post-office was standing on 
her doorstep. The children said “ Good morning,” 
politely, as they passed. 

“ Here, stop a bit,” she said. 

So they stopped. 

“ Those roses,” said she. 

“ Did you like them ? ” said Phyllis ; “ they were 
as fresh as fresh. I made the needle-book, but it 
was Bobbie’s present.” She skipped joyously as 
she spoke. 



“ Here’s your basket,” said the Post-office 
woman. She went in and brought out the basket. 
It was full of fat, red gooseberries. 

“ I dare say Perks’s children would like them,” 
said she. 

“ You are an old dear,” said Phyllis, throwing her 
arms around the old lady’s fat waist. “ Perks 
will be pleased.” 

“ He won’t be half so pleased as I was with 
your needle-book and the tie and the pretty flowers 
and all,” said the old lady, patting Phyllis’s 
shoulder. “ You’re good little souls, that you are. 
Look here. I’ve got a pram round the back in the 
wood-lodge. It was got for my Emmie’s first, 
that didn’t live but six months, and she never had 
but that one. I’d like Mrs. Perks to have it. It 
’ud be a help to her with that great boy of lier’s. 
Will you take it along ? ” 

“ Oh! ” said all the children together. 

When Mrs. Ransome had got out the perambula- 
tor and taken off the careful papers that covered 
it, and dusted it all over, she said : — 

“ Well, there it is. I don’t know but what I’d 
have given it to her before if I’d thought of it. 
Only I didn’t quite know if she’d accept of it from 
me. You tell her it was my Emmie’s little one’s 
pram — ” 



“ Oh, isn't it nice to think there is going to be a 
real live baby in it again ! ” 

“Yes,” said Mrs. Ransome, sighing, and then 
laughing ; “ here, I’ll give you some peppermint 
cushions for the little ones, and then you run along 
before I give you the roof off my head and the 
clothes off my back.” 

All the things that had been collected for Perks 
were packed into the perambulator, and at half- 
past three Peter and Bobbie and Phyllis wheeled 
it down to the little yellow house where Perks 

The house was very tidy. On the window ledge 
was a jug of wild-flowers, big daises, and red 
sorrel, and feathery, flowery grasses. 

There was a sound of splashing from the wash- 
house, and a partly washed boy put his head 
round the door. 

“ Mother’s a-changing of herself,” he said. 

“ Down in a minute,” a voice sounded down the 
narrow, freshly scrubbed stairs. 

The children waited. Next moment the stairs 
creaked and Mrs. Perks came down, buttoning her 
bodice. Her hair was brushed very smooth and 
tight, and her face shone with soap and water. 

“ Pm a bit late changing, Miss,” she said to Bob- 



bie, “ owing to me having had a extry clean-up 
to-day, along o’ Perks happening to name its being 
his birthday. I don’t know what put it into his 
head to think of such a thing. We keeps the 
children’s birthdays, of course ; but him and me — 
we’re too old for such like, as a general rule.” 

“We knew it was his birthday,” said Peter, 
“ and we’ve got some presents for him outside in 
the perambulator.” 

As the presents were being unpacked Mrs. Perks 
gasped. When they were all unpacked, she sur- 
prised and horrified the children by sitting sud- 
denly down on a wooden chair and bursting into 

“Oh, don’t!” said everybody; “oh, please 
don’t ! ” And Peter added, perhaps a little im- 
patiently : “ What on earth is the matter ? You 
don’t mean to say you don’t like it ? ” 

Mrs. Perks only sobbed. The Perks children, 
now as shiny-faced as any one could wish, stood 
at the wash-house door, and scowled at the in- 
truders. There was a silence, an awkward 

« Don't you like it ? ” said Peter, again, while his 
sisters patted Mrs. Perks on the back. 

She stopped crying as suddenly as she had begun. 



“ There, there, don’t you mind me. Pm all 
right ! ” she said. “ Like it ? Why, it’s a birth- 
day such as Perks never ’ad, not even when ’e was 
a boy and stayed with his uncle, who was a corn 
chandler in his own account. He failed after- 
wards. Like it ? Oh — ” and then she went on 
and said all sorts of things that I won’t write 
down, because I am sure that Peter and Bobbie 
and Phyllis would not like me to. Their ears got 
hotter and hotter, and their faces redder and 
redder at the kind things Mrs. Perks said. They 
felt they had done nothing to deserve all this 

At last Peter said : “ Look here, we’re glad you’re 
pleased. But if you go on saying things like that, 
we must go home. And we did want to stay and 
see if Mr. Perks is pleased, too. But we can’t 
stand this.” 

“ I won’t say another single word,” said Mrs. 
Perks, with a beaming face, “ but that needn’t 
stop me thinking, need it ? For if ever — ” 

“ Can we have a plate for the buns ? ” Bobbie 
asked abruptly. And then Mrs. Perks hastily laid 
the table for tea, and the buns and the honey and 
the gooseberries were displayed on plates, and the 
roses were put in two glass jam jars, and the 



tea table looked, as Mrs. Perks said, “ fit for a 

“ To think ! ” she said, “ me getting the place tidy 
early, and the little ’uns getting the wild-flowers 
and all — when never did I think there’d be any- 
thing more for him except the ounce of his pet 
particular that I got o’ Saturday and been saving 
up for ’im ever since. Bless us ! ’e is early ! ” 

Perks had indeed unlatched the latch of the 
little front gate. 

“ Oh,” whispered Bobbie, “ let’s hide in the back 
kitchen, and you tell him about it. But give him 
the tobacco first, because you got it for him. And 
when you’ve told him, we’ll all come in and shout, 
6 Many happy returns ! ’ ” 

It was a very nice plan, but it did not quite 
come off. To begin with, there was only just 
time for Peter and Bobbie and Phyllis to rush into 
the wash-house, pushing the young and open- 
mouthed Perks children in front of them. There 
was not time to shut the door, so that, without at 
all meaning it, they had to listen to what went on 
in the kitchen. The wash-house was a tight fit for 
the Perks children and the Three Chimneys chil- 
dren, as well as all the wash-house’s proper fur- 
niture, including a mangle and copper, 



“ Hullo, old woman ! ” they heard Mr. Perks’s 
voice say ; “ here’s a pretty set out ! ” 

“ It’s your birthday tea, Bert,” said Mrs. Perks, 
“and here’s a ounce of your extry particular. I 
got it o’ Saturday along o’ your happening to 
remember it was your birthday to-day.” 

“ Good old girl ! ” said Mr. Perks, and there was 
a sound of a kiss. 

“ But what’s that pram doing here ? And 
what’s all these bundles ? And where did you 
get the sweetstuff, and — ” 

The children did not hear what Mrs. Perks 
replied, because just then Bobbie gave a start, put 
her hand in her pocket, and all her body grew stiff 
with horror. 

“ Oh ! ” she whispered to the others, “ whatever 
shall we do ? I forgot to put the labels on any of 
the strings ! He won’t know what’s from who. 
He’ll think it’s all us, and that we’re trying to be 
grand or charitable or something horrid.” 

“ Hush ! ” said Peter. 

And then they heard the voice of Mr. Perks, 
loud and rather angry. 

“ I don’t care,” he said ; “ I won’t stand it, and 
so I tell you straight.” 

“ But,” said Mrs. Perks, “ it’s them children you 



make such a fuss about — the children from the 
Three Chimneys.” 

“ I don’t care,” said Perks, firmly, “ not if it was 
a angel from Heaven. We’ve got on all right all 
these years and no favours asked. I’m not going 
to begin these sort of charity goings-on at my time 
of life, so don’t you think it, Nell.” 

“ Oh, hush ! ” said poor Mrs. Perks ; “ Bert, shut 
your silly tongue, for goodness’ sake. The all 
three of ’ems in the wash-house a-listening to 
every word you speaks.” 

“ Then I’ll give them something to listen to,” 
said the angry Perks ; I’ve spoke my mind to 
them afore now, and I’ll do it again,” he added, 
and f he took two strides to the wash-house door, 
and flung it wide open — as wide, that is, as 
it would go, with the tightly packed children 
behind it. 

“ Come out,” said Perks, “ come out and tell me 
what you mean by it. ’Ave I ever complained 
to you of being short, as you comes this charity 
lay over me ? ” 

“ Oh ! ” said Phyllis, “ I thought you’d be so 
pleased ; I’ll never try to be kind to any one 
else as long as I live. No, I won’t, not never.” 

She burst into tears. 



“We didn’t mean any harm,” said Peter. 

“ It ain’t what you means so much as what you 
does,” said Perks. 

“ Oh, don't ! ” cried Bobbie, trying hard to be 
braver than Phyllis, and to find more words than 
Peter had done for explaining in. “We thought 
you’d love it. We always have things on our 

“ Oh, yes,” said Perks, “ your own relations ; 
that’s different.” 

“ Oh, no,” Bobbie answered. “ Not our own 
relations. All the servants always gave us things 
at home, and us to them when it was their birth- 
days. And when it was mine, and Mother gave 
me the brooch like a buttercup, Mrs. Viney gave 
me two lovely glass pots, and nobody thought 
she was coming the charity lay over us.” 

“ If it had been glass pots here,” said Perks, 
“ I wouldn’t ha’ said so much. It’s there being 
all this heap, and heaps of things I can’t stand. 
No — nor won’t neither.” 

“ But they’re not all from us — ” said Peter, 
“only we forgot to put the labels on. They’re 
from all sorts of people in the village.” 

“ Who put ’em up to it, I’d like to know ? ” 
asked Perks. 



“ Why, we did,” sniffed Phyllis. 

Perks sat down heavily in the elbow-chair and 
looked at them with what Bobbie afterwards 
described as withering glances of gloomy despair. 

“ So you’ve been round telling the neighbours 
we can’t make both ends meet ? Well, now 
you’ve disgraced us as deep as you can in the 
neighbourhood, you can just take the whole bag 
of tricks back were it come from. Very much 
obliged, I’m sure. I don’t doubt but what you 
meant it kind, but I’d rather not be acquainted 
with you any longer if it’s all the same to you.” 
He deliberately turned the chair round so that 
his back was turned to the children. The legs 
of the chair grated on the brick floor, and that 
was the only sound that broke the silence. 

Then suddenly Bobbie spoke. 

“ Look here,” she said, “ this is most awful.” 

“ That’s what I says,” said Perks, not turning 

“ Look here,” said Bobbie, desperately, “ we’ll 
go if you like — and you needn’t be friends with 
us any more if you don’t want, but — ” 

“ We shall always be friends with you , however 
nasty you are to us,” sniffed Phyllis, wildly. 

“ Be quiet,” said Peter, in a fierce aside. 



“ But before we go,” Bobbie went on desper- 
ately, “do let us show you the labels we wrote 
to put on the things.” 

« I don’t want to see no labels,” said Perks, 
« except proper luggage ones in my own walk 
of life. Do you think I’ve kept respectable and 
outer debt on what I gets, and her having to 
take in washing, to be give away for a laughing- 
stock to all the neighbours ? ” 

“Laughing.?” said Peter; “you don’t know.” 

“You’re a very hasty gentleman,” whined Phyl- 
lis ; “ you know you were wrong once before, about 
us not telling you the secret about the Russian. 
Do let Bobbie tell you about the labels ? ” 

“ Well. Go ahead ! ” said Perks, grudgingly. 

“ Well, then,” said Bobbie, fumbling miserably, 
yet not without hope, in her tightly stuffed pocket, 
“ we wrote down all the things everybody said 
when they gave us the things, with the people’s 
names, because Mother said we ought to be care- 
ful — because — but I wrote down when she said 
— and you’ll see.” 

But Bobbie could not read the labels just at 
once. She had to swallow once or twice before 
she could begin. 

Mrs. Perks had been crying steadily ever since 



her husband had opened the wash-house door. 
Now she caught her breath, choked, and said : — 

“ Don’t you upset yourself, Missy. I know you 
meant it kind if he doesn’t.” 

“May I read the labels?” said Bobbie, crying 
on to the slips as she tried to sort them. « Mother’s 
first. It says : — 

44 4 Little Clothes for Mrs. Perks’s children.’ 
Mother said, 4 I’ll find some of Phyllis’s things 
that she’s grown out of if you’re quite sure Mr. 
Perks wouldn’t be offended and think it’s meant 
for charity. I’d like to do some little thing for 
him, because he’s so kind to you. I can’t do much 
because we’re poor ourselves.’ ” 

Bobbie paused. 

44 That’s all right,” said Perks, 44 your Ma’s a 
born lady. We’ll keep the little frocks, and what 
not, Nell.” 

44 Then there’s the perambulator and the goose- 
berries, and the sweets,” said Bobbie, 44 they’re from 
Mrs. Ransome. She said : 4 1 daresay Mr. Perks’s 
children would like the sweets. And the peram- 
bulator was got for my Emmie’s first — it didn’t 
live but six months, and she’s never had but that 
one. I’d like Mrs. Perks to have it. It would be 
a help with her fine boy. I’d have given it before 



if I’d been sure she’d accept of it from me.’ She 
told me to tell you,” Bobbie added, “ that it was 
her Emmie’s little one’s pram.” 

“ I can’t send that pram back, Bert,” said Mrs. 
Perks, firmly, “ and I won’t. So don’t you ask 
me — ” 

“ I’m not a-asking anything,” said Perks, gruffly. 

“Then the shovel,” said Bobbie. “Mr. James 
made it for you himself. And he said — where is 
it? Oh, yes, here! He said, ‘ You tell Mr. Perks 
it’s a pleasure to make a little trifle for a man 
as is so much respected,’ and then he said he 
wished he could shoe your children and his own 
children, like they do the horses, because, well, 
he knew what shoe leather was.” 

“James is a good enough chap,” said Perks. 

“ Then the honey,” said Bobbie, in haste, “ and 
the bootlaces. He said he respected a man that 
paid his way — and the butcher said the same. 
And the old turnpike woman said many was the 
time you’d lent her a hand with her garden when 
you were a lad — and things like that came home 
to roost — I don’t know what she meant. And 
everybody who gave anything said they liked you, 
and it was a very good idea of ours ; and nobody 
said anything about charity or anything horrid 



like that. And the old gentleman gave Peter a 
gold pound for you, and said you were a man who 
knew your work. And I thought you’d love to 
know how fond people are of you, and I never 
was so unhappy in my life. Good-by. I hope 
you’ll forgive us some day — ” 

She could say no more, and she turned to go. 

“ Stop,” said Perks, still with his back to them ; 
“ I take back every word I’ve said contrary to 
what you’d wish. Nell, set on the kettle.” 

“We’ll take the things away if you’re unhappy 
about them,” said Peter; “but I think everybody’ll 
be most awfully disappointed, as well as us.” 

“ I’m not unhappy about them,” said Perks ; “ I 
don’t know,” he added, suddenly wheeling the 
chair round and showing a very odd-looking 
screwed-up face, .“I don’t know as ever I was 
better pleased. Not so much with the presents — 
though they’re an A 1 collection — but the kind 
respect of our neighbours. That’s worth having, 
eh, Nell?” 

“ I think it’s all worth having,” said Mrs. Perks, 
“and you’ve made a most ridiculous fuss about 
nothing, Bert, if you ask me.” 

“ No, I ain’t,” said Perks, firmly ; “if a man 
didn’t respect hisself, no one wouldn’t do it for 



“ But every one respects you,” said Bobbie ; 
“ they all said so.” 

“I knew you’d like it when you really under- 
stood,” said Phyllis, brightly. 

“ Hump ! You’ll stay to tea ? ” said Mr. Perks. 

Later on Peter proposed Mr. Perks’s health. 
And Mr. Perks proposed a toast, also honoured 
in tea, and the toast was, “May the garland of 
friendship be ever green,” which was much more 
poetical than any one had expected from him. 

“Jolly good little kids, those,” said Mr. Perks 
to his wife as they went to bed. 

“ Oh, they’re all right, bless their hearts,” said 
his wife; “it’s you that’s the aggravatingest old 
thing that ever was. I was ashamed of you — I 
tell you — ” 

“You didn’t need to be, old gal. I climbed 
down handsome soon as I understood it wasn’t 
charity. But charity’s what I never did abide, 
and won’t neither.” 


All sorts of people were made happy by that 
birthday party. Mr. Perks and Mrs. Perks and 
the little Perkses by all the nice things and by the 
kind thoughts of their neighbours ; the Three 



Chimneys children by the success, undoubted 
though unexpectedly delayed, of their plan ; and 
Mrs. Ransome every time she saw the fat Perks 
baby in the perambulator. Mrs. Perks made quite 
a round of visits to thank people for their kind 
birthday presents, and after each visit felt that she 
had a better friend than she had thought. 

“Yes,” said Perks, reflectively, “it’s not so much 
what you does as what you means ; that’s what I 
say. Now if it had been charity.” 

“Oh, drat charity,” said Mrs. Perks; “nobody 
won’t offer you charity, Bert, however much you 
was to want it, I lay. That was just friendliness, 
that was.” 

When the clergyman called on Mrs. Perks, she 
told him all about it. “ It was friendliness, wasn’t 
it, Sir ? ” said she. 

“ I think,” said the clergyman, “ it was what 
is sometimes called loving-kindness.” 

So you see it was all right in the end. But 
if one does that sort of thing, one has to be care- 
ful to do it in the right way. For, as Mr. Perks 
said, when he had time to think it over, “ It’s 
not so much what you do, as what you mean.” 



When they first went to live at Three 
Chimneys, the children had talked a great deal 
about their Father, and had asked a great many 
questions about him, and what he was doing and 
where he was and when he would come horn 
Mother always answered their questions as weu 
as she could. But as the time went on they 
grew to speak less of him. Bobbie had felt almost 
from the first that for some strange miserable 
reason these questions hurt Mother and made her 
sad. And little by little the others came to have 
this feeling, too, though they could not have put 
it into words. 

One day when Mother was working so hard 
that she could not leave off even for ten minutes, 
Bobbie carried up her tea to the big bare room 
that they called Mother’s workshop. It had 
hardly any furniture. Just a table and a chair 
and a rug. But always big pots of flowers on 




the window-sills and on the mantlepiece. The 
children saw to that. And from the three long 
uncurtained windows the beautiful stretch of 
meadow and moorland, the far violet of the hills, 
and the unchanging changefulness of cloud and 

“ Here’s your tea, Mother-love,” said Bobbie ; 
“ do drink it while it’s hot.” 

Mother laid down her pen among the pages 
that were scattered all over the table, pages covered 
with her writing, which was almost as plain as 
print, and much prettier. She ran her hands 
into her hair, as if she were going to pull it out 
by handfuls. 

“ Poor dear head,” said Bobbie, “does it ache?” 

“ No — yes — not much,” said Mother. “ Bob- 
bie, do you think Peter and Phil are forgetting 

“ Nof said Bobbie, indignantly. “ Why ? ” 

“ You none of you ever speak of him now.” 

Bobbie 'stood first on one leg and then on the 

“We often talk about him when we’re by 
ourselves,” she said. 

“ But not to me,” said Mother. “ Why ? ” 

Bobbie did not find it easy to say why. 



“ I — you — ” she said, and stopped. She went 
over to the window and looked out. 

“ Bobbie, come here,” said her Mother, and 
Bobbie came. 

“ Now,” said Mother, putting her arm round 
Bobbie and laying her ruffled head against Bobbie’s 
shoulder, “ try to tell me, dear.” 

Bobbie fidgeted. 

“ Tell Mother.” 

“ Well, then,” said Bobbie, “ I thought you 
were so unhappy about Daddy not being here, it 
made you worse when I talked about him. So 
I stopped doing it.” 

“ And the others ? ” 

“ I don’t know about the others,” said Bobbie. 
“ I never said anything about that to them. But I 
expect they felt the same about it as me.” 

“ Bobbie dear,” said Mother, still leaning her 
head against her, « I’ll tell you. Besides parting 
from Father, he and I have had a great sorrow — 
oh, terrible — worse than anything you can think 
of, and at first it did hurt to hear you all talking 
of him as if everything were just the same. But 
it would be much more terrible if you were to for- 
get him. That would be worse than anything.” 

“ The trouble,” said Bobbie, in a very little 



voice, — “ I promised I would never ask you any 
questions, and I never have, have I ? But — the 
trouble — it won’t last always ? ” 

“ No,” said Mother, “ the worst will be over 
when Father comes home to us.” 

“ I wish I could comfort you,” said Bobbie. 

“ Oh, my dear, do you suppose you don’t ? 
What should I do without you — you and the 
others ? Do you think I haven’t noticed how good 
you’ve all been, not quarrelling nearly as much as 
you used to — and all the little kind things you do 
for me — the flowers, and cleaning my shoes, and 
tearing up to make my bed before I get home to 
do it myself ? ” 

Bobbie had sometimes wondered whether Mother 
noticed these things. 

“ That’s nothing,” she said, “ to what — ” 

“ I must get on with my work,” said Mother, 
giving Bobbie one last squeeze. “ Don’t say any- 
thing to the others ! ” 

That evening in the hour before bed-time instead 
of reading to the children Mother told them stories 
of the games she and Father used to have when 
they were children and lived near each other in the 
country — tales of the adventures of Father with 
Mother’s brothers when they were all boys to- 



gether. Very funny stories they were, and the 
children laughed as they listened. 

“ Uncle Edward died before he was grown up, 
didn’t he ? ” said Phyllis, as Mother lighted the 
bedroom candles. 

“ Yes, dear,” said Mother, “ you would have 
loved him. He was such a brave boy, and so ad- 
venturous. Always in mischief, and yet friends 
with everybody in spite of it. And your Uncle 
Reggie’s in Ceylon — yes, and Father’s away, too. 
But I think they’d all like to think we’d enjoyed 
talking about the things they used to do. Don’t 
you think so ? ” 

“ Not Uncle Edward,” said Phyllis, in a shocked 
tone ; “ he’s in Heaven.” 

“You don’t suppose he’s forgotten us and all 
the old times, because God has taken him, any 
more than I forget him. Oh, no, he remembers. 
He’s only away for a little time. We shall see 
him some day.” 

“And Uncle Reggie — and Father, too ? ” said 

“ Yes,” said Mother. « Uncle Reggie and Father, 
too. Good night, my darlings.” 

“ Good night,” said every one. Bobbie hugged 
her mother more closely even than usual, and 



whispered in her ear, “Oh, I do love you so, 
Mummy — I do — I do ” 

When Bobbie came to think it all over, she tried 
not to wonder what the great trouble was. But 
she could not always help it. Father was not 
dead — like poor Uncle Edward — Mother had 
said so. And he was not ill, or Mother would 
have been with him. Being poor wasn’t the 
trouble. Bobbie knew it was something nearer 
the heart than money could be. 

“ I mustn’t try to think what it is,” she told her- 
self; “no, I mustn’t. I am glad Mother noticed 
about us not quarrelling so much. We’ll keep that 

And alas, that very afternoon she and Peter had 
what Peter called a first-class shindy. 

They had not been a week at Three Chim- 
neys before they had asked Mother to let them 
have a piece of garden each for their very own, 
and she had agreed, and the sunk border under the 
peach trees had been divided into three pieces and 
they were allowed to plant whatever they liked 

Phyllis had planted mignonette and nasturtium 
and Virginia Stock in hers. The seeds came up 
and though they looked just like weeds, Phyllis 



believed that they would bear flowers some day. 
The Virginia Stock justified her faith quite soon, 
and her garden was gay with a band of bright 
little flowers, pink and white and red and mauve. 

“ I can’t weed for fear I pull up the wrong 
things,” she used to say comfortably ; “ it saves 
such a lot of work.” 

Peter sowed vegetable seeds in his, — carrots and 
onions and turnips. The seed was given to him 
by the farmer who lived in the nice black-and-white, 
wood-and-plaster house just beyond the bridge. 
He kept turkeys and guinea fowls, and was a most 
amiable man. But Peter’s vegetables never had 
much of a chance, because he liked to use the 
earth of his garden for digging canals, and making 
forts and earthworks for his toy soldiers. And 
the seeds of vegetables rarely come to much in a 
soil that is constantly disturbed for the purposes 
of war and irrigation. 

Bobbie planted rose-bushes in her garden, but all 
the little new leaves of the rose-bushes shrivelled 
and withered, perhaps because she moved them 
from the other part of the garden in May, which 
is not at all the right time of year for moving 
roses. But she would not own that they were 
dead, and hoped on against hope, until the day 



when Perks came up to see the garden, and told 
her quite plainly that all her roses were as dead as 
door nails. 

“Only good for bonfires, Miss,” he said. “You 
just dig ’em up and burn ’em, and I’ll give you 
some nice fresh roots outer my garden ; pansies, 
and stocks, and sweet willies, and forget-me-nots. 
I’ll bring ’em along to-morrow if you get the 
ground ready.” 

So next day she set to work, and that happened 
to be the day when Mother had praised her and 
the others about not quarrelling. She moved the 
rose-bushes and carried them to the other end of 
the garden, where the rubbish heap was that they 
meant to make a bonfire of when Guy Fawkes day 

Meanwhile Peter had decided to flatten out all 
his forts and earthworks, with a view to making 
a model of the railway-tunnel, cutting, embank- 
ment, canal, aqueduct, bridges, and all. 

So when Bobbie came back from her last thorny 
journey with the dead rose-bushes, he had got the 
rake and was using it busily. 

“ I was using the rake,” said Bobbie. 

“ Well, I’m using it now,” said Peter. 

“ But I had it first,” said Bobbie. 



“ Then it’s my turn now,” said Peter. And 
that was how the quarrel began. 

“You’re always being disagreeable about noth- 
ing,” said Peter, after some heated argument. 

“ I had the rake first,” said Bobbie, flushed and 
defiant, holding on to its handle. 

“ Don’t I tell you I said this morning I meant to 
have it. Didn’t I, Phil ? ” 

Phyllis said she didn’t want to be mixed up in 
their rows. And instantly, of course, she was. 

“ If you remember you ought to say.” 

“Of course she doesn’t remember — but she 
might say so.” 

“ I wish I’d had a brother instead of two 
whiney little kiddy sisters,” said Peter. This was 
always recognised as the marking the high-water 
mark of Peter’s rage. 

Bobbie made the reply she always made to 

“ I can’t think why little boys were ever in- 
vented,” and just as she said it she looked up, and 
saw the three long windows of Mother’s workshop 
flashing in the red rays of the sun. The sight 
brought back those words of praise : — 

“ You don’t quarrel like you used to do.” 

“ Oh! ” cried Bobbie, just as if she had been hit, 



or had caught her finger in a door, or had felt the 
hideous sharp beginnings of toothache. 

“ What’s the matter ? ” said Phyllis. 

Bobbie wanted to say : “ Don’t let’s quarrel. 

Mother hates it so,” but though she tried hard, she 
couldn’t. Peter was looking too disagreeable and 

“ Take the horrid rake, then,” w~as the best she 
could manage. And she suddenly let go her hold 
on the handle. Peter had been holding on to it 
too, firmly and pullingly, and now that the pull the 
other way was suddenly stopped, he staggered and 
fell over backward, the teeth of the rake between 
his feet. 

“ Serve you right,” said Bobbie, before she could 
stop herself. 

Peter lay still for half a moment — long enough 
to frighten Bobbie a little. Then he frightened her 
a little more, for he sat up — screamed once — 
turned rather pale, and then lay back and began to 
shriek, faintly but steadily. It sounded exactly 
like a pig being killed a quarter of a mile off. 

Mother put her head out of the window, and it 
wasn’t half a minute after that she was in the 
garden kneeling by the side of Peter who never for 
an instant ceased to squeal. 



“ What happened, Bobbie ? ” Mother asked. 

“ It was the rake,” said Phyllis. “ Peter was 
pulling at it, so was Bobbie, and she let go and he 
went over.” 

“ Stop that noise, Peter,” said Mother. “ Come. 
Stop at once.” 

Peter used up what breath he had left in a last 
squeal and stopped. 

“ Now,” said Mother, “ are you hurt ? ” 

“ If he was really hurt, he wouldn’t make such a 
fuss,” said Bobbie, still trembling with fury ; “ he’s 
not a coward ! ” 

“ I think my foot’s broken off, that’s all,” said 
Peter, huffily, and sat up. Then he turned quite 
white. Mother put her arm round him. 

“ He is hurt,” she said ; “ he’s fainted. Here, 
Bobbie, sit down and take his head on your lap.” 

Then Mother undid Peter’s boots. As she took 
the right one off something dripped from his foot 
on to the ground. It was red blood. And when 
the stocking came off there were three red wounds 
in Peter’s foot and ankle, where the teeth of the 
rake had bitten him, and his foot was covered with 
red smears. 

“Run for water — a basinful,” said Mother, and 
Phyllis ran. She upset most of the water out of 



the basin in her haste, and had to fetch more in a 


Peter did not open his eyes again till Mother had 
tied her handkerchief round his foot, and she and 
Bobbie had carried him in and laid him on the 
brown, wooden settle in the dining room. By this 
time Phyllis was halfway to the Doctor’s. 

Mother sat by Peter and bathed his foot and 
talked to him, and Bobbie went out and got tea 
ready, and put in the kettle. 

“ It’s all I can do,” she told herself. “ Oh, sup- 
pose Peter should die, or be a helpless cripple for 
life, or have to walk with crutches, or wear a boot 
with a sole like a log of wood ! ” 

She stood by the back door reflecting on these 
gloomy possibilities, her eyes fixed on the water- 

“ I wish I’d never been born,” she said, and she 
said it out loud. 

“ Why, lawk a mercy, what’s that for ? ” asked 
a voice, and Perks stood before her with a wooden- 
twig basket full of green-leaved things and soft, 
loose earth. 

“ Oh, it’s you,” she said. “ Peter’s hurt his foot 
with a rake — three great gaping wounds, like 
soldiers get. And it was partly my fault.” 



“ That it wasn’t, I’ll go bail,” said Perks. 
‘‘ Doctor seen him ? ” 

“ Phyllis has gone for the Doctor.” 

“ He’ll be all right ; you see if he isn’t,” said 
Perks. “Why, my father’s second cousin had a 
hay-fork run into him, right into his inside, and 
he was right as ever in a few weeks, all except his 
being a bit weak in the head afterwards, and they 
did say that it was along of his getting a touch of 
the sun in the hay-field, and not the fork at all. 
I remember him well. A ldnd-’earted chap, but 
soft, as you might say.” 

Bobbie tried to let herself be cheered by this 
heartening reminiscence. 

“Well,” said Perks, “you won’t want to be 
bothered with gardening just this minute, I dare 
say. You shew me where your garden is, and 
I’ll pop the bits of stuff in for you. And I’ll hang 
about, if I may make so free, to see the Doctor as 
he comes out and hear what he says. You cheer 
up, Missie. I lay a pound he ain’t hurt, not to 
speak of.” 

But he was. The Doctor came and looked at 
the foot and bandaged it beautifully, and said that 
Peter must not put it to the ground for at least a 



“ He won’t be lame, or have to wear crutches 
or a lump on his foot, will he ? ” whispered Bobbie, 
breathlessly, at the door. 

“ My aunt ! no ! ” said Dr. Forrest ; “ he’ll be 
as nimble as ever on his pins in a fortnight- 
Don’t you worry, little Mother Goose.” 

It was when Mother had gone to the gate with 
the Doctor to take his last instructions and Phyllis 
was filling the kettle for tea, that Peter and Bobbie 
found themselves alone. 

“ He says you won’t be lame or anything,” said 

“ Oh course I shan’t, silly,” said Peter, very 
much relieved all the same. 

“ Oh, Peter, I am so sorry,” said Bobbie, after a 

“ That’s all right,” said Peter, gruffly. 

“ It was all my fault,” said Bobbie. 

“ Rot,” said Peter. 

“ If we hadn’t quarrelled, it wouldn’t have 
happened. I knew it was wrong to quarrel. I 
wanted to say so, but somehow I couldn’t.” 

“ Don’t drivel,” said Peter. “ I shouldn’t have 
stopped if you had said it. Not likely. And 
besides, us rowing hadn’t anything to do with it. 
I might have caught my foot in the hoe, or taken 



off my fingers in the chaff-cutting machine or 
blown my nose off with fireworks. It would have 
been hurt just the same whether we’d been rowing 
or not.” 

“ But I knew it was wrong to quarrel,” said 
Bobbie, in tears, “ and now you’re hurt and — ” 

“ Now look here,” said Peter, firmly, “you just 
dry up. If you’re not careful, you’ll turn into a 
beastly little Sunday-school prig, so I tell you.” 

“ I don’t mean to be a prig. But it’s so hard not 
to be, when you’re really trying to be good.” 

(The Gentle Reader may perhaps have suffered 
from this difficulty.) 

“ Not it,” said Peter ; “ it’s a jolly good thing 
it wasn’t you was hurt. I’m glad it was me. 
There ! If it had been you, you’d have been lying 
on the sofa looking like a suffering angel and being 
the light of the ancious household and all that. 
And I couldn’t have stood it.” 

“ No, I shouldn’t,” said Bobbie. 

“ Yes, you would,” said Peter. 

“I tell you I shouldn’t.” 

“ I tell you you would.” 

“ Oh, children,” said Mother’s voice at the door. 
“ Quarrelling again ? Already ? ” 

“We aren’t quarrelling — not really,” said Peter. 



“ I wish you wouldn’t think it’s rows every time 
we don’t agree ! ” When Mother had gone out 
again, Bobbie broke out : — 

“ Peter, I am sorry you’re hurt. But you are 
a beast to say I’m a Prig.” 

“ Well,” said Peter, unexpectedly, “ perhaps I 
am. You did say I wasn’t a coward, even when 
you were in such a wax. The only thing is — 
don’t you be a Prig, that’s all. You keep your 
eyes open and if you feel prigginess coming on 
just stop it in time. See ? ” 

“ Yes,” said Bobbie, “ I see.” 

“ Then let’s call it Pax,” said Peter, magnani- 
mously : “ bury the hatchet in the fathoms of the 
past. Shake hands on it. I say, Bobbie, old chap, 
I am tired.” 

He was tired for many days after that, and the 
settle seemed hard and uncomfortable in spite of 
all the pillows and bolsters and soft folded rugs. 
It was terrible not to be able to go out. They 
moved the settle to the window, and from there 
Peter could see the smoke of the trains winding 
along the valley. But he could not see the trains. 

At first Bobbie found it quite hard to be as 
nice to him as she wanted to be, for fear he should 
think her priggish. But that soon wore off, and 



both she and Phyllis were, as he observed, jolly 
good sorts. Mother sat with him when his sisters 
were out. And the words, “he’s not a coward,” 
made Peter determined not to make any fuss about 
the pain in his foot, though it was rather bad, es- 
pecially at night. 

Praise helps people very much, sometimes. 

There were visitors, too. Mrs. Perks came up to 
ask how he was, and so did the Station Master, 
and several of the village people. But the time 
went slowly, slowly. 

“ I do wish there was something to read,” said 
Peter. “ I’ve read all our books fifty times over.” 

“ I’ll go to the Doctor’s,” said Phyllis ; “ he’s sure 
to have some.” 

“ Only about how to be ill, and about people’s 
nasty insides, I expect,” said Peter. 

“ Perks has a whole heap of Magazines that 
come out of trains when people are tired of them,” 
said Bobbie. “ I’ll run down and ask him.” 

So the girls went their two ways. 

Bobbie found Perks busy cleaning lamps. 

“ And how’s the young gent ? ” said he. 

“Better, thanks,” said Robbie, “but he’s most 
frightfully bored. I came to ask if you’d got any 
Magazines you could lend him.” 



“ There, now,” said Perks, regretfully, rubbing his 
ear with a black and oily lump of cotton waste, 
“ why didn’t I think of that, now ? I was trying 
to think of something as ’ud amuse him only this 
morning, and I couldn’t think of anything better 
than a guinea-pig. And a young chap I know’s 
going to fetch that over for him this tea-time.” 

“ How lovely ! A real live guinea ! He will be 
pleased. But he’d like the Magazines as well.” 

“ That’s just it,” said Perks. “ Pve just sent 
the pick of ’em to Snigson’s boy — him what’s 
just getting over the pewmonia. But Pve lots 
of illustrated papers left.” 

He turned to the pile of papers in the corner 
and took up a heap six inches thick.” 

“ There ! ” he said. “ Pll just slip a bit of 
string and a bit of paper round ’em.” 

He pulled an old newspaper from the pile 
and spread it on the table, and made a neat 
parcel of it. 

“ There,” said he, “ there’s lots of pictures, 
and if he likes to mess ’em about with his 
paint-box, or coloured chalks or what not, why, 
let him. I don’t want ’em.” 

“ You’re a dear,” said Bobbie, took the par- 
cel, and started. The papers were heavy, and 



when she had to wait at the level crossing while 
a train went by, she rested the parcel on the top 
of the gate. And idly she looked at the print- 
ing on the paper that the parcel was wrapped in. 

Snddenly she clutched the parcel tighter and 
bent her head over it. It seemed like some 
horrible dream. She read on — the bottom of 
the column was torn off — she could read no 

She never remembered how she got home. 
But she went on tiptoe to her room and locked 
the door. Then she undid the parcel and read 
that printed column again, sitting on the edge 
of her bed, her hands and feet icy cold and her 
face burning. When she had read all there was, 
she drew a long uneven breath. 

“ So now I know,” she said. 

What she had read was headed, “End of the 
Trial. Verdict. Sentence.” 

The name of the man who had been tried 
was the name of her Father. The verdict was 
“Guilty.” And the sentence was “Five years 
Penal Servitude.” 

“ Oh, Daddy,” she whispered, crushing the 
paper hard, “it’s not true — I don’t believe it. 
You never did ! Never, never, never ! ” 



There was a hammering on the door. 

“ What is it ? ” said Bobbie. 

“ It’s me,” said the voice of Phyllis ; “ tea’s 
ready, and a boy’s brought Peter a guinea-pig. 
Come along down.” 

And Bobbie had to. 



Bobbie knew the secret now. A sheet of old 
newspaper wrapped round a parcel — just a 
little chance like that — had given the secret to 
her. And she had to go down to tea and pretend 
that there was nothing the matter. The pretence 
was bravely made, but it wasn’t very successful. 

For when she came in, every one looked up 
from its tea and saw her pink-lidded eyes and 
her pale face with red tear-blotches on it. 

“My darling,” cried Mother, jumping up from 
the tea-tray, “ whatever is the matter ? ” 

“ My head aches, rather,” said Bobbie. And 
indeed it did. 

“ Has anything gone wrong ? ” Mother asked. 

“I’m all right, really,” said Bobbie, and she 
telegraphed to her Mother from her swollen 
eyes this brief, imploring message — “ Not be- 
fore the others ! ” 

Tea was not a cheerful meal. Peter was so 
distressed by the obvious fact that something 
horrid had happened to Bobbie that he limited 



his speech to repeating, “ More bread and 
butter, please,” at startlingly short intervals. 
Phyllis stroked her sister’s hand under the 
table to express sympathy, and knocked her 
cup over as she did it. Fetching a cloth and 
wiping up the spilt milk helped Bobbie a little. 
But she thought that tea would never end. Yet at 
last it did end, as all things do at last, and when 
Mother took out the tray, Bobbie followed her. 

“ She’s gone to own up,” said Phyllis to Peter ; 
“ I wonder what she’s done.” 

“ Broken something, I suppose,” said Peter, “ but 
she needn’t be so silly over it. Mother never rows 
for accidents. Listen ! Yes, they’re going up- 
stairs. She’s taking Mother up to shew her, — the 
water-jug with storks on it, I expect it is.” 

Bobbie, in the kitchen, had caught hold of 
Mother’s hand as she set down the tea-things. 

“ What is it ? ” Mother asked. 

But Bobbie only said, “ Come upstairs, come up 
where nobody can hear us.” 

When she had got Mother alone in her room she 
locked the door and then stood quite still, and 
quite without words. 

All through tea she had been thinking of what 
to say ; she had decided that “ I know all,” or 




“All is known to me,” or “ The terrible secret is a 
secret no longer,” would be the proper thing. But 
now that she and her Mother and that awful sheet 
of newspaper were alone in the room together, she 
found that she could say nothing. 

Suddenly she went to Mother and put her arms 
round her and began to cry again. And still she 
could find no words, only, “ Oh, Mammy, oh, 
Mammy, oh, Mammy,” over and over again. 

Mother held her very close and waited. 

Suddenly Bobbie broke away from her and went 
to her bed. From under its mattress she pulled 
out the paper she had hidden there, and held it 
out, pointing to her Father’s name with a finger 
that shook. 

“ Oh, Bobbie,” Mother cried, when one little 
quick look had shown her what it was, “ you don’t 
believe it ? You don’t believe Daddy did it ? ” 

“iYo,” Bobbie almost shouted. She had stopped 

“ That’s all right,” said Mother. “ It’s not true. 
And they’ve shut him up in prison, but he’s done 
nothing wrong. He’s good and noble and honour- 
able, and he belongs to us. We have to think of 
that, and be proud of him, and wait.” 

Again Bobbie clung to her Mother, and again 


only one word came to her, but now that word 
was “Daddy,” and “Oh, Daddy, oh, Daddy, oh 
Daddy ! ” again and again. 

“ Why didn’t you tell me, Mammy ? ” she asked 

“Are you going to tell the others?” Mother 

« No.” 

“ Why ? ” 

“ Because — ” 

“ Exactly,” said Mother ; “ so you understand 
why I didn’t tell you. We two must help each 
other to be brave.” 

“Yes,” said Bobbie, “Mother, will it make you 
more unhappy if you tell me all about it ? I want 
to understand.” 

So then, sitting cuddled up close to her Mother, 
Bobbie heard “ all about it.” She heard how those 
men, who had asked to see Father on that remem- 
bered last night when the Engine was being 
mended, had come to arrest him, charging him 
with selling State secrets to the Russians — with 
being, in fact, a spy and a traitor. She heard 
about the trial, and about the evidence — letters 
found in Father’s desk at the office, letters that 
convinced the jury that Father was guilty. 



“ Oh, how could they look at him and believe 
it ! ” cried Bobbie ; “ and how could any one do 
such a thing ! ” 

« Some one did it,” said Mother, “ and all the 
evidence was against Father. Those letters — ” 

“ Yes. How did the letters get into his desk ? ” 

“ Some one put them there. And the person who 
put them there was the person who was really 

“ He must be feeling pretty awful all this time,” 
said Bobbie, thoughtfully. 

“ I don’t believe he had any feelings,” Mother 
said hotly ; “ he couldn’t have done a thing like that 
if he had.” 

“ Perhaps he just shoved the letters into the 
desk to hide them when he thought he was going 
to be found out. Why don’t you tell the lawyers, 
or some one, that it must have been that person ? 
There wasn’t any one that would have hurt Father 
on purpose, was there ? ” 

“ I don’t know — I don’t know. The man under 
him who got Daddy’s place when he — when the 
awful thing happened — he was always jealous of 
your Father because Daddy was so clever and every 
one thought such a lot of him. And Daddy never 
quite trusted that man.” 


“ Couldn’t we explain all that to some one ? ” 

“ Nobody will listen,” said Mother, very bitterly, 
“ nobody at all. Do you suppose I’ve not tried 
everything ? No, my dearest, there’s nothing to be 
done. All we can do, you and I and Daddy, is to 
be brave, and patient, and — ” she spoke very 
softly — “ to pray, Bobbie dear.” 

“ Mother, you’ve got very thin,” said Bobbie, 

“ A little perhaps.” 

“ And oh,” said Bobbie, “ I do think you’re the 
bravest person in the world as well as the nicest ! ” 

“ We won’t talk of all this any more, will we, 
dear ? ” said Mother, “ we must bear it and be 
brave. And, darling, try not to think of it. Try 
to be cheerful, and to amuse yourself and the 
others. It’s much easier for me if you can be a 
little bit happy and enjoy things. Wash your poor 
little round face, and let’s go out into the garden 
for a bit.” 

The other two were very gentle and kind to 
Bobbie. And they did not ask her what was the 
matter. This was Peter’s idea, and he had drilled 
Phyllis, who would have asked a hundred questions 
if she had been left to herself. 

Next day Bobbie managed to get away alone. 



And once more she wrote a letter. And once more 
it was to the old gentleman. 

“ My dear Friend,” she said, “ you see what is 
in this paper. It is not true. Father never did it. 
Mother says some one put the papers in Father’s 
desk, and she says the man under him that got 
Father’s place afterwards was jealous of Father, 
and Father suspected him a long time. But no- 
body listens to a word she says, but you are so 
good and clever, and you found out about the 
Russian gentleman’s wife directly. Can’t you find 
out who did the treason because it wasn’t Father 
upon my honour ; he is an Englishman and uncap- 
able to do such things, and then they would let 
Father out of prison. It is dreadful, and Mother 
is getting so thin. She told us once to pray for all 
prisoners and captives. I see now. Oh, do help 
me — there is only just Mother and me know, and 
we can’t do anything. Peter and Phil don’t know- 
1’11 pray for you twice every day as long as I live 
if you’ll only try — just try to find out. Think 
if it was your Daddy, what you would feel. Oh, do, 
do, do help me. With love 

“ I remain Your affectionately little friend 

“ Roberta.” 



“P.S. Mother would send her kind regards if she 
knew I am writing — but it is no use telling her I 
am, in case you can’t do anything. But I know 
you will. Bobbie with best love.” 

She cut the account of her Father’s trial out 
of the newspaper with Mother’s big cutting-out 
scissors, and put it in the envelope with her 

Then she took it down to the station, going out 
the back way and round by the road, so that the 
others should not see her and offer to come with 
her, and she gave the letter to the Station Master 
to give to the old gentleman next morning. 

“ Where lime you been ? ” shouted Peter, from 
the top of the yard wall where he and Phyllis 

“ To the station, of course,” said Bobbie ; “ give 
us a hand, Pete.” 

She set her foot on the lock of the yard door. 
Peter reached down a hand. 

“ What on earth ? ” she asked as she reached 
the wall-top — for Phyllis and Peter were very 
very muddy. A lump of wet clay lay between 
them on the wall, they had each a slip of slate in 
a very dirty hand, and behind Peter, out of the 


reach of accidents, were several strange rounded 
objects rather like very fat sausages, hollow, but 
closed up at one end. 

“ It’s nests,” said Peter, “ swallows’ nests. 
We’re going to dry them in the oven and hang 
them up with string under the eaves of the coach- 

“ Yes,” said Phyllis ; “ and then we’re going to 
save up all the wool and hair we can get, and in 
the spring we’ll line them, and then how pleased 
the swallows will be ! ” 

“ I’ve often thought people don’t do nearly 
enough for dumb animals,” said Peter, with an 
air of virtue. “ I do think people might have 
thought of making nests for poor little swallows 
before this.” 

“ Oh,” said Bobbie, vaguely, “ if everybody 
thought of everything, there’d be nothing left for 
anybody else to think about.” 

“ Look at the nests — aren’t they pretty ? ” said 
Phyllis, reaching across Peter to grasp a nest. 

“ Look out, Phil, you goat,” said her brother. 
But it was too late ; her strong little fingers had 
crushed the nest. 

“ There now,” said Peter. 

“ Never mind,” said Bobbie. 


“ It is one of my own,” said Phyllis, “ so you 
needn’t jaw, Pete. Yes, we’ve put our initial 
names on the ones we’ve done, so that the swal- 
lows will know who they’ve got to be so grateful 
to and fond of.” 

“ Swallows can’t read, silly,” said Peter. 

“ Silly yourself,” retorted Phyllis ; “ how do you 
know ? ” 

“ Who thought of making the nests, anyhow?” 
shouted Peter. 

“ I did,” screamed Phyllis. 

“ Nya,” rejoined Peter, “ you only thought of 
making hay ones and sticking them in the ivy for 
the sparrows, and they’d have been sopping long 
before egg-laying time. It was me said clay and 

“ I don’t care what you said.” 

“ Look,” said Bobbie, “ I’ve made the nest all 
right again. Give me the bit of stick to mark 
your initial name on it. But how can you? Your 
letters and Peter’s are the same. P. for Peter, P. 
for Phyllis.” 

“ I put F. for Phyllis,” said the child of that 
name. “ That’s how it sounds. The swallows 
wouldn’t spell Phyllis with a P, I’m certain-sure.” 

“They can’t spell at all,” Peter was still in- 



“ Then why do you see them always on Christ- 
mas cards and valentines with letters round their 
necks ? How would they know where to go if 
they couldn’t read ? ” 

“That’s only in pictures. You never saw one 
really with letters round its neck.” 

“ Well, I have a pigeon, then ; at least Daddy 
told me they did. Only it was under their wings 
and not round their necks, but it comes to the 
same thing, and — ” 

“ I say,” interrupted Bobbie, “ there’s to be a 
paper-chase to-morrow.” 

“ Who ? ” Peter asked. 

“Grammar School. Perks thinks the hare will 
go along by the line at first. We might go along 
the cutting. You can see a long way from there.” 

The paper-chase was found to be a more amus- 
ing subject of conversation than the reading poWers 
of swallows. Bobbie had hoped it might be. And 
next morning Mother let them take their lunch 
and go out for the day to see the paper-chase. 

“ If we go to the cutting,” said Peter, “ we shall 
see the workmen, even if we miss the paper- 

Of course it had taken some time to get the 
line clear from the rocks and earth and trees that 


had fallen on it when the great landslip happened. 
That was the occasion, you will remember, when 
the three children saved the train from being 
wrecked by waving six little red-flannel-petticoat 
flags. It is always interesting to watch people 
working, especially when they work with such 
interesting things as spades and picks and shovels 
and planks and barrows, when they have cindery 
red flres in iron pots with round holes in them, 
and red lamps hanging near the works at night. 
Of course the children were never out at night ; 
but once, at dusk, when Peter had got out of his 
bedroom skylight on to the roof, he had seen the 
red lamp shining far away at the edge of the cut- 
ting. The children had often been down to watch 
the work, and this day the interest of picks and 
spades and barrows being wheeled along planks 
completely put the paper-chase out of their heads, 
so that they quite jumped when a voice just 
behind them panted, “ Let me pass, please.” It 
was the hare — a big-boned, loose-limbed boy, with 
dark hair lying flat on a very damp forehead. 
The bag of torn paper under his arm was fastened 
across one shoulder by a strap. The children 
stood back. The hare ran along by the line, 
and the workmen leaned on their picks to watch 



him. He ran on steadily and disappeared into 
the mouth of the tunnel. 

“ That’s against the by-laws,” said the foreman. 

“Why wrong?” said the oldest workman; “live 
and let live’s what I always say. Ain’t you never 
been young yourself, Mr. Bates ? ” 

“I ought to report him,” said the foreman. 

“ Why spoil sport’s what I always say.” 

“ Passengers are forbidden to cross the line on 
any pretence,” murmured the foreman, doubtfully. 

“ He ain’t no passenger,” said one of the 

“ Nor ’e ain’t crossed the line, not where we 
could see ’im do it,” said another. 

“Nor yet ’e ain’t made no pretences,” said a 

“ And,” said the oldest workman, “ ’e’s outer 
sight now. What the eye don’t see the ’art 
needn’t take no notice of’s what I always 

And now, following the track of the hare by 
the little white blots of scattered paper, came the 
hounds. There were thirty of them, and they all 
came down the steep, ladder-like steps by ones 
and twos and threes and sixes and sevens. Bobbie 
and Phyllis and Peter counted them as they 


passed. The foremost ones hesitated a moment 
at the foot of the ladder, then their eyes caught 
the gleam of scattered whiteness along the line 
and they turned towards the tunnel, and, by ones 
and twos and threes and sixes and sevens, dis- 
appeared in the dark mouth of it. The last one, 
in a red jersey, seemed to be extinguished by the 
darkness like a candle that is blown out. 

“They don’t know what they’re in for,” said 
the foreman ; “ it isn’t so easy running in the 
dark. The tunnel takes two or three turns.” 

“ They’ll take a long time to get through, you 
think ? ” Peter asked. 

“ An hour or more, I shouldn’t wonder.” 

“Then let’s cut across the top and see them 
come out at the other end,” said Peter ; “ we shall 
get there long before they do.” 

The counsel seemed good, and they went. 

They climbed the steep steps from which they 
had picked the wild cherry blossom for the grave 
of the little wild rabbit, and reaching the top of 
the cutting, set their faces towards the hill 
through which the tunnel was cut. It was 
stiff work. 

“ It’s like Alps,” said Bobbie, breathlessly. 

“ Or Andes,” said Peter. 



“ It’s like Himmy what’s its names ? ” gasped 
Phyllis. “ Mount Everlasting. Do let’s stop.” 

“ Stick to it,” panted Peter ; “ you’ll get your 
second wind in a minute.” 

Phyllis consented to stick to it — and on they 
went, running when the turf was smooth and the 
slope easy, climbing over stones, helping them- 
selves up rocks by the branches of trees, creeping 
through narrow openings between tree trunks 
and rocks, and so on and on, up and up, till at 
last they stood on the very top of the hill where 
they had so often wished to be. 

“ Halt ! ” cried Peter, and threw himself flat on 
the grass. For the very top of the hill was a 
smooth, turfed table-land, dotted with mossy 
rocks and little mountain ash trees. 

The girls also threw themselves down flat. 

“Plenty of time,” Peter panted ; “the rest’s all 
down hill.” 

When they were rested enough to sit up and 
look round them, Bobbie cried : — 

“ Oh, look ! ” 

“ What at ? ” said Phyllis. 

“ The view,” said Bobbie. 

“ I hate views,” said Phyllis, “ don’t you, Peter?” 

“ Let’s get on,” said Peter. 


“ But this isn’t a view like they take you to in 
carriages when you’re at the seaside, all sea and 
sand and bare hills. It’s like the ‘ coloured . 
counties ’ in one of Mother’s poetry books.” 

“ It’s not so dusty,” said Peter; “look at the 
Aqueduct straddling slap across the valley like a 
giant centipede, and then the towns sticking their 
church spires up out of the trees like pens out of 
an inkstand, /think it’s more like 

There could he see the banners 
Of twelve fair cities shine.” 

“ I love it,” said Bobbie ; “ it’s worth the climb.” 

“ The paper chase is worth the climb,” said 
Phyllis, “ if we don’t lose it. Let’s get on. It’s 
all down hill now.” 

“ 1 said that ten minutes ago,” said Peter. 

“ Well, Fve said it now,” said Phyllis; “ come on.” 

“Loads of time,” said Peter. And there was. 
For when they had got down to a level with the 
top of the tunnel’s mouth, — they were a couple of 
hundred yards out of their reckoning and had to 
creep along the face of the hill, — there was no 
sign of the hare or the hounds. 

“ They’ve gone long ago, of course,” said Phyllis, 
as they leaned on the brick parapet above the 



“I don’t think so,” said Bobbie, “but even if 
they had, it’s ripping here, and we shall see the 
trains come out of the tunnel like dragons out of 
lairs. We’ve never seen that from the top side 

“No more we have,” said Phyllis, partially 

It was really a most exciting place to be in. 
The top of the tunnel seemed ever so much farther 
from the line than they had expected, and it 
was like being on a bridge, but a bridge over- 
grown with bushes and creepers and grass and 

“ I know the paper-chase has gone long ago,” 
said Phyllis every two minutes, and she hardly 
knew whether she was pleased or disappointed 
when Peter, leaning over the parapet, suddenly 
cried : — 

“ Look out. Here he comes ! ” 

They all leaned over the sun-warmed brick 
wall in time to see the hare, going very slowly, 
come out from the shadow of the tunnel. 

“ There, now,” said Peter, « what did I tell 
you ? Now for the hounds ! ” 

Very soon came the hounds — by ones and 
twos and threes and sixes and sevens — and they 


also were going slowly and seemed very tired. 
Two or three who lagged far behind came out 
long after the others. 

“ There,” said Bobbie, “ that’s all — now what 
shall we do ? ” 

“ Go along into the tulgy wood over there and 
have lunch,” said Phyllis; “we can see them for 
miles from up here.” 

“Not yet,” said Peter. “That’s not the last. 
There’s the one in the red jersey to come yet. 
Let’s see the last of them come out.” 

But though they waited and waited and waited, 
the boy in the red jersey did not appear. 

“ Oh, let’s have lunch,” said Phyllis ; “ Pve got 
a pain in my front with being so hungry. You 
must have missed seeing the red-jerseyed one 
when he came out with the others — ” 

But Bobbie and Peter agreed that he had not 
come out with the others. 

“ Let’s get down to the tunnel mouth,” said 
Peter ; “ then perhaps we shall see him coming 
along from the inside. I expect he felt spun- 
chuck, and rested in one of the manholes. You 
stay up here and watch, Bob, and when I signal 
from below, you come down. We might miss 
seeing him on the way down, with all these trees.” 



So the others climbed down and Bobbie waited 
till they signalled to her from the line below. 
And then she, too, scrambled down the roundabout 
slippery path among tree roots and moss till she 
stepped out between two dogwood trees and 
joined the others on the line. And still there 
was no sign of the hound with the red jersey. 

“ Oh, do, do let’s have something to eat,” wailed 
Phyllis. “ I shall die if you don’t, and then you’ll 
be sorry.” 

“ Give her the sandwiches, for goodness’ sake, 
and stop her silly mouth,” said Peter, not quite 
unkindly. “ Look here,” he added, turning to 
Bobbie, “ perhaps we’d better have one each, too. 
We may need all our strength. Not more than 
one, though. There’s no time.” 

“ What ? ” asked Bobbie, her mouth already 
full, for she was just as hungry as Phyllis. 

“ Don’t you see,” replied Peter, impressively, 
“ that red-jerseyed hound has had an accident — 
that’s what it is. Perhaps even as we speak he’s 
lying with his head on the metals, an unresisting 
prey to any passing express — ” 

“ Oh, don’t try to talk like a book,” cried Bobbie, 
bolting what was left of her sandwich ; “ come on. 
Phil, keep close behind me, and if a train comes, 


stand flat against the tunnel wall and hold your 
petticoats close to you.” 

“Give me one more sandwich,” pleaded Phyllis, 
“and I will.” 

“ I’m going first,” said Peter ; “ it was my idea,” 
and he went. 

Of course you know what going into a tunnel is 
like ? The engine gives a scream, and then sud- 
denly the noise of the running, rattling train 
changes and grows different and much louder. 
Grown-up people pull up the windows and hold 
them by the strap. The railway carriage suddenly 
grows like night — with lamps, of course, unless 
you are in a slow local train, in which case lamps 
are not always provided. Then by and by the 
darkness outside the carriage window is touched 
by puffs of cloudy whiteness, then you see a blue 
light on the walls of the tunnel, then the sound of 
the moving train changes once more, and you are 
out in the good open air again, and grown-ups let 
the straps go. The windows, all dim with the 
yellow breath of the tunnel, rattle down into their 
places, and you see once more the dip and catch 
of the telegraph wires beside the line, and the 
straight cut hawthorn hedges with the tiny baby 
trees growing up out of them every thirty yards. 



All this, of course, is what a tunnel means when 
you are in a train. But everything is quite differ, 
ent when you walk into a tunnel on your own feet, 
and tread on shifting sliding stones and gravel on 
a path that curves downwards from the shining 
metals to the wall. Then you see slimy, oozy 
trickles of water running down the inside of the 
tunnel, and you notice that the bricks are not red 
or brown, as they are at the tunnel’s mouth, but 
dull, sticky, sickly green. Your voice, when you 
speak, is quite changed from what it was out in 
the sunshine, and it is a long time before the 
tunnel is quite dark. 

It was not yet quite dark in the tunnel when 
Phyllis caught at Bobbie’s skirt, ripping out half 
a yard of gathers, but no one noticed this at the 

“ I want to go back,” she said, “ I don’t like it. 
It’ll be pitch dark in a minute. I won't go on in 
the dark. I don’t care what you say, I won't .” 

“ Don’t be a silly cuckoo,” said Peter ; « I’ve got 
a candle end and matches, and — what’s that ? ” 

“ That ” was a low, humming sound on the rail- 
way line, a trembling of the wires beside it, a buzz- 
ing, humming sound that grew louder and louder 
as they listened. 


“ It’s a train,” said Bobbie. 

“ Which line ? ” 

Nobody knew. 

“Let me go back,” cried Phyllis, struggling to 
get away from the hand by which Bobbie held 

“ Don’t be a coward,” said Bobbie ; “ it’s quite 
safe. Stand back.” 

“ Come on,” shouted Peter, who was a few 
yards ahead. “ Quick ! Man hole ! ” 

The roar of the advancing train was now louder 
than the noise you hear when your head is under 
water in the bath and both taps are running, and 
you are kicking with your heels against the bath’s 
tin sides. But Peter had shouted for all he was 
worth, and Bobbie heard him. She dragged 
Phyllis along to the manhole. Phyllis, of course, 
stumbled over the wires and grazed both her legs. 
But they dragged her in, and all three stood in the 
dark, damp, arched recess while the train roared 
louder and louder. It seemed as if it would 
deafen them. And, in the distance, they could 
see its eyes of fire growing bigger and brighter 
every instant. 

“ It is a dragon — I always knew it was — it 
takes its own shape in here, in the dark,” shouted 



Phyllis. But nobody heard her. You see the 
train was shouting, too, and its voice was bigger 
than hers. 

And now, with a rush and a roar and a rattle 
and a long dazzling flash of lighted carriage win- 
dows, a smell of smoke, and blast of hot air, the 
train hurtled by, clanging and jangling and echo- 
ing in the vaulted roof of the tunnel. Phyllis and 
Bobbie clung to each other. Even Peter caught 
hold of Bobbie’s arm, “ in case she should be 
frightened,” as he explained afterwards. 

And now, slowly and gradually, the tail-lights 
grew smaller and smaller, and so did the noise, till 
with one last whizz the train got itself out of the 
tunnel, and silence settled again on its damp walls 
and dripping roof. 

“ Oh ! ” said the children, all together in a 

Peter was lighting the candle end with a hand 
that trembled. 

“ Come on,” he said ; but he had to clear his 
throat before he could speak in his natural 

“ Oh,” said Phyllis, “ if the red-jerseyed one was 
in the way of the train ! ” 

“ We’ve got to go and see,” said Peter. 


“ Couldn’t we go and send some one from the 
station ? ” said Phyllis. 

“Would you rather wait here for us?” asked 
Robbie, severely, and of course that settled the 

So the three went on into the deeper darkness 
of the tunnel. Peter led, holding his candle end 
high to light the way. The grease ran down his 
fingers, and some of it right up his sleeve. He 
found a long streak from wrist to elbow when he 
went to bed that night. 

It was not more than a hundred and fifty yards 
from the spot where they had stood while the train 
went by that Peter stood still, shouted “ Hullo,” and 
then went on much quicker than before. When 
the others caught him up, he stopped. And he 
stopped within a yard of what they had come into 
the tunnel to look for. Phyllis saw a gleam of 
red, and shut her eyes tight. There, on the 
curved, pebbly down line, was the red-jerseyed 
hound. His back was against the wall, his arms 
fell limply by his sides, and his eyes were shut. 

“ Was the red, blood ? Is he all killed ? ” 
asked Phyllis, screwing her eyelids more tightly 

“ Killed ? Nonsense ! ” said Peter. “ There’s 


nothing red about him except his jersey. He’s 
only fainted. What on earth are we to do ? ” 

“ Can we move him ? ” asked Bobby. 

“ I don’t know ; he’s a big chap.” 

“ Suppose we bathed his forehead with water. 
No, I know we haven’t any, but milk’s just as wet. 
There’s a whole bottle.” 

“Yes,” said Peter, “and they rub people’s hands, 
I believe, and say, 4 Oh, look up, speak to me ! 
For my sake, speak ! ’ ” 

“ They burn feathers, I know,” said Phyllis. 

“ What’s the good of saying that when we 
haven’t any feathers ? ” 

“ As it happens,” said Phyllis, in a tone of 
exasperated triumph, “ Pve got a shuttlecock in 
my pocket. So there ! ” 

And now Peter rubbed the hands of the red- 
jersey ed one. Bobbie burned the feathers of the 
shuttlecock one by one under his nose, Phyllis 
splashed warmish milk on his forehead, and all 
three kept on saying as fast and as earnestly as 
they could : — 

“ Oh, look up, speak to me ! For my sake, 
speak ! ” 



“ Oh, look up ! Speak to me ! For my sake, 
speak ! ” The children said the words over and 
over again to the unconscious hound in a red 
jersey, who sat with closed eyes and pale face 
against the side of the tunnel. 

“Wet his ears w T ith milk,” said Bobbie. “I 
know they do it to people’s that faint — with Eau- 
de-Cologne. But I expect milk’s just as good.” 

So they wetted his ears, and some of the milk 
ran down his neck under the red jersey. It 
was very dark in the tunnel. The candle end 
Peter had carried, and which now burned on a 
flat stone, gave hardly any light at all. 

“Oh, do look up,” said Phyllis. “For my sake 
I believe he’s dead.” 

« For my sake,” repeated Bobbie. “ No, he 

“ For any sake,” said Peter ; “ come out of it.” 
And he shook the sufferer by the arm. 

And then the boy in the red jersey sighed, and 




opened his eyes, and shut them again and said in 
a very small voice, “ Chuck it.” 

“ Oh, he’s not dead,” said Phyllis. “ I knew he 
wasn’t,” and she began to cry. 

“ What’s up ? Pm all right,” said the boy. 

“ Drink this,” said Peter, firmly, thrusting the 
nose of the milk bottle into the boy’s mouth. The 
boy struggled, and some of the milk was upset 
before he could get his mouth free to say : — 

“ What is it ? ” 

“ It’s milk,” said Peter. “ Fear not, you are in 
the hands of friends. Phil, you stop bleating this 

“Do drink it,” said Bobbie, gently; “it’ll do 
you good.” 

So he drank. And the three stood by without 
speaking to him. 

“ Let him be a minute,” Peter whispered ; “ he’ll 
be all right as soon as the milk begins to run like 
fire through his veins.” 

He was. 

“ I’m better now,” he announced. “ I remember 
all about it.” He tried to move, but the movement 
ended in a groan. « Bother ! I believe I’ve 
broken my leg,” he said. 

“ Did you tumble down ? ” asked Phyllis, snif- 


“Of course not — I’m not a kiddie,” said the 
boy, indignantly ; “ it was one of those beastly wires 
tripped me up, and when I tried to get up again I 
couldn’t stand, so I sat down. Gee whillikins ! it 
does hurt, though. How did you get here ? ” 

“We saw you all go into the tunnel and then 
we went across the hill to see you all come out. 
And the others did — all but you, and you didn’t. 
So we are a rescue party,” said Peter, with pride. 

“You’ve got some pluck, I will say,” remarked 
the boy. 

“ Oh, that’s nothing,” said Peter, with modesty. 
“ Do you think you could walk if we helped you ? ” 

“ I could try,” said the boy. 

He did try. But he could only stand on one 
foot ; the other dragged in a very nasty way. 

“ Here, let me sit down. I feel like dying,” 
said the boy. “ Let go of me — let go, quick — ” 
He lay down and closed his eyes. The others 
looked at each other by the dim light of the little 

“ What on earth ! ” said Peter. 

“Look here,” said Bobbie, quickly, “you must 
go and get help. Go to the nearest house.” 

« Yes, that’s the only thing,” said Peter. “ Come 



“ If you take his feet and Pliil and I take his 
head, we could carry him to the manhole.” 

They did it. It was perhaps as well for the 
sufferer that he had fainted again. 

“ Now,” said Bobbie, “ I’ll stay with him. You 
take the longest bit of candle, and oh, — be quick, 
for this bit won’t burn long.” 

“ I don’t think Mother would like me leaving 
you,” said Peter, doubtfully. “Let me stay, and 
you and Phil go.” 

“No, no,” said Bobbie, “you and Phil go — and 
lend me your knife. I’ll try to get his boot off 
before he wakes up again.” 

“ I hope it’s right what we’re doing,” said 

“ Of course it’s right,” said Bobbie, impatiently. 
“ What else would you do ? Leave him here all 
alone because it’s dark? Nonsense. Hurry up, 
that’s all.” 

So they hurried up. 

Bobbie watched their dark figures and the little 
light of the little candle with an odd feeling of 
having come to the end of everything. She knew 
now, she thought, what nuns who were bricked up 
alive in convent walls felt like. Suddenly she gave 
herself a little shake. 



“Don’t be a silly little girl,” she said. She was 
always very angry when any one else called her a 
little girl, even if the adjective that went first 
was not “ silly ” but “ nice ” or « good ” or “ clever.” 
And it was only when she was very angry with 
herself that she allowed Roberta to use that ex- 
pression to Bobbie. 

She fixed the little candle end on a broken brick 
near the red-jerseyed boy’s feet. Then she opened 
Peter’s knife. It was always hard to manage — 
a halfpenny was generally needed to get it open 
at all. This time Bobbie somehow got it open 
with her thumbnail. She broke the nail, and 
it hurt horribly. Then she cut the boy’s bootlace, 
and got the boot off. She tried to pull off his 
stocking, but his leg was dreadfully swollen, and 
it did not seem to be the proper shape. So she cut 
the stocking down, very slowly and carefully. It 
was a brown, knitted stocking, and she wondered 
who had knitted it, and whether it was the boy’s 
mother, and whether she was feeling anxious about 
him, and how she would feel when he was brought 
home with his leg broken. When Bobby had got 
the stocking off and saw the poor leg, she felt as 
though the tunnel was growing darker, and the 
ground felt unsteady, and nothing seemed quite real. 



“ Silly little girl ! ” said Roberta to Bobbie, and 
felt better. 

“ The poor leg,” she told herself ; “ it ought to 
have a cushion — ah ! ” 

She remembered the day when she and Phyllis 
had torn up their red flannel petticoats to make 
danger signals to stop the train and prevent an 
accident. Her flannel petticoat to-day was white, 
but it would be quite as soft as a red one. She 
took it off. 

“ Oh, what useful things flannel petticoats are ! ” 
she said ; “ the man who invented them ought to 
have a statue directed to him.” And she said it 
aloud, becaused it seemed that any voice, even her 
own, would be a comfort in that darkness. 

“ What ought to be directed ? Who to ? ” asked 
the boy, suddenly and very feebly. 

“ Oh,” said Bobbie, “ now you’re better ! Hold 
your teeth and don’t let it hurt you too much. 
Now ! ” 

She had folded the petticoat, and lifting his leg 
laid it on the cushion of folded flannel. 

“ Don’t faint again, please don’t,” said Bobbie, as 
he groaned. She hastily wetted her handkerchief 
with milk and spread it over the poor leg. 

“ Oh, that hurts,” cried the boy, shrinking. 
“ Oh — no, it doesn’t — it’s nice, really.” 


“ What’s your name ? ” said Bobbie. 

“ Jim.” 

“ Mine’s Bobbie.” 

“ But you’re a girl, aren’t you ? ” 

“ Yes, my long name’s Roberta.” 

“I say — Bobbie.” 

“ Yes ? ” 

“Wasn’t there some more of you just now?” 

“Yes, Peter and Phil — that’s my brother and 
sister. They’ve gone to get some one to carry you 

“ What rum names. All boys’.” 

“Yes — I wish I was a boy, don’t you?” 

« I think you’re all right as you are.” 

“ I didn’t mean that — I meant don’t you wish you 
were a boy, but of course you are without wishing.” 

“ You’re just as brave as a boy. Why didn’t 
you go with the others ? ” 

“ Somebody had to stay with you,” said Bobbie. 

“Tell you what, Bobbie,” said Jim, “you’re a 
brick. Shake.” He reached out a red-jerseyed 
arm and Bobbie squeezed his hand. 

“ I won’t shake it,” she explained, “ because it 
would shake you, and that would shake your poor 
leg, and that would hurt. Have you got a 
hanky ? ” 



“ I don’t expect I have.” He felt in his pocket. 
“ Yes, I have. What for ? ” 

She took it and wetted it with milk and put it 
on his forehead. 

“ That’s jolly,” he said ; “ what is it ? ” 

“ Milk,” said Bobbie. “ We haven’t any 
water — ” 

“You’re a jolly good little nurse,” said Jim. 

“ I do it for Mother sometimes,” said Bobbie, — 
“not milk, of course, but scent, or vinegar and 
w T ater. I say, I must put the candle out now, 
because there mayn’t be enough of the other one to 
get you out by.” 

“ By George,” said he, “ you think of everything.” 

Bobbie blew. Out went the candle. You have 
no idea how black-velvety the darkness was. 

“ I say, Bobbie,” said a voice through the black- 
ness, “aren’t you afraid of the dark?” 

“ Not — not very, that is — ” 

“ Let’s hold hands,” said the boy, and it was 
really rather good of him, because he was like 
most boys of his age and hated all material tokens 
of affection, such as kissing and holding of hands. 
He called all such things “ pa wings,” and de- 
tested them. 

The darkness was more bearable to Bobbie now 



that her hand was held in the large rough hand of 
the red-jerseyed sufferer ; and he, holding her little 
smooth hot paw, was surprised to find that he did 
not mind it so much as he expected. She tried to 
talk, to amuse him, and “ take his mind off ” his 
sufferings, but it is very difficult to go on talking 
in the dark, and presently they found themselves 
in a silence, only broken now and then by a — 

“ You all right, Bobbie ? ” 
or an — 

“ I’m afraid it’s hurting you most awfully, Jim. 
I am so sorry.” 

And it was very cold. 

Peter and Phyllis tramped down the long way 
of the tunnel towards daylight, the candle-grease 
dripping over Peter’s fingers. There were no 
accidents unless you count Phyllis’s catching her 
frock on a wire, and tearing a long, jagged slit in 
it, and tripping over her bootlace when it came 
undone, or going down on her hands-and-knees, all 
four of which were grazed. 

“ There’s no end to this tunnel,” said Phyllis, — 
and indeed it did seem very very long. 

“ Stick to it,” said Peter ; “ everything has an 
end, and you get to it if you only keep all on.” 



Which is quite true, if you come to think of it, 
and a useful thing to remember in seasons of 
trouble, — such as measles, arithmetic, impositions, 
and those times when you are in disgrace, and feel 
as though no one would ever love you again, and 
you could never — never again — love anybody. 

“ Hurray,” said Peter, suddenly, “ there’s the end 
of the tunnel — - looks just like a pin-hole in a bit 
of black paper, doesn’t it ? ” 

The pin-hole got larger — blue lights lay along 
the sides of the tunnel. The children could see the 
gravel way that lay in front of them ; the air grew 
warmer and sweeter. Another twenty steps and 
they were out in the good glad sunshine with the 
green trees on both sides. 

Phyllis drew a long breath. 

“ I’ll never go into a tunnel again so long as ever 
I live,” said she, “ not if there are twenty hundred 
thousand million hounds inside with red jerseys 
and their legs broken.” 

“ Don’t be a silly cuckoo,” said Peter, as usual. 
“ You’d have to.” 

“ I think it was very brave and good of me,” 
said Phyllis. 

“ Not it,' 1 said Peter ; “ you didn’t go because you 
were brave, but because Bobbie and I aren’t skunks. 



Now where’s the nearest house, I wonder ? You 
can’t see anything here for the trees.” 

“ There’s a roof over there,” said Phyllis, pointing 
down the line. 

“ That’s the signal-box,” said Peter, “ and you 
know you’re not allowed to speak to signalmen on 
duty. It’s wrong.” 

“ Pm not near so afraid of doing wrong as I was 
of going into that tunnel,” said Phyllis. “ Come 
on,” and she started to run along the line. So 
Peter ran, too. 

It was very hot in the sunshine, and both chil- 
dren were hot and breathless by the time they 
stopped, and bending their heads back to look up 
at the open windows of the signal-box, shouted 
“ Hi ! ” as loud as their breathless state allowed. 
But no one answered. The signal-box stood quiet 
as an empty nursery, and the handrail of its steps 
were hot to the hands of the children as they 
climbed softly up. They peeped in at the open 
door. The signalman was sitting on a chair tilted 
back against the wall. His head leaned sideways, 
and his mouth was open. He was fast asleep. 

“ My hat ! ” cried Peter ; 44 wake up ! ” And he 
cried in a terrible voice, for he knew that if a 
signalman sleeps on duty, he risks losing his situa- 



tion, let alone all the other dreadful risks to trains 
which expect him to tell them when it is safe for 
them to go their ways. 

The signalman never moved. Then Peter sprang 
to him and shook him. And slowly, yawning and 
stretching, the man awoke. But the moment he 
was awake he leapt to his feet, put his hands to his 
head “ like a mad maniac,” as Phyllis said after- 
wards, and shouted : — 

“ Oh, my heavens — what’s o’clock ? ” 

“ Twelve thirteen,” said Peter, and indeed it 
was by the white-faced, round-faced clock on the 
wall of the signal-box. 

The man looked at the clock, sprang to the 
levers, and wrenched them this way and that. An 
electric bell tingled — the wires and cranks creaked, 
and the man threw himself into a chair. He was 
very pale, and the sweat stood on his forehead 
“ like large dewdrops on a white cabbage,” as 
Phyllis remarked later. He was trembling, too ; 
the children could see his big hairy hands shake 
from side to side, “ with quite extra-sized trembles,” 
to use the subsequent words of Peter. He drew 
long breaths. Then suddenly he cried, “Thank 
God, thank God, you come in when you did — oh, 
thank God ! ” and his shoulders began to heave and 



his face grew red again, and he hid it in those large 
hairy hands of his. 

“Oh, don’t cry — don’t,” said Phyllis, “it’s all 
right now,” and she patted him on one big, broad 
shoulder, while Peter conscientiously thumped the 

But the signalman seemed quite broken down, and 
the children had to pat him and thump him for 
quite a long time before he found his handkerchief 
— a red one with mauve and white horseshoes on 
it — and mopped his face and spoke. During this 
patting and thumping interval a train thundered by. 

“ I’m down-right shamed, that I am,” were the 
words of the big signalman when he had stopped 
crying ; “ snivelling like a kid.” Then suddenly he 
seemed to get cross. “ And what was you doing 
up here, anyway ? ” he said ; “ you know it ain’t 

“ Yes,” said Phyllis, “ we knew it was wrong — 
but I wasn’t afraid of doing wrong, and so it turned 
out right. You aren’t sorry we came.” 

“ Lor love you — if you hadn’t ’ a ’ come — ” he 
stopped and then went on. “ It’s a disgrace, so it 

is, sleeping on duty. If it was to come to be 
known — even as it is, when no harm’s come of 

it. ” 



« It won’t come to be known,” said Peter ; “ we 
aren’t sneaks. All the same you oughtn’t to sleep 
on duty — it’s dangerous.” 

“Tell me something I don’t know,” said the 
man, “ but I can’t help it. I know’d well 
enough just how it ’ud be. But I couldn’t get off. 
They couldn’t get no one to take on my duty. I 
tell you I ain’t had ten minutes’ sleep this last 
five days. My little chap’s ill, — pewmonia, the 
Doctor says, — and there’s no one but me and ’is 
little sister to do for him. That’s where it is. 
The gell must ’ave her sleep. Dangerous ? Yes, I 
believe you. Now go and split on me if you like.” 

“ Of course we won’t,” said Peter, indignantly, 
but Phyllis ignored the whole of the signalman’s 
speech, except the first six words. 

“ You asked us,” she said, “ to tell you some- 
thing you don’t know. Well, I will. There’s a 
boy in the tunnel over there with a red jersey and 
his leg broken.” 

“ What did he want to go into the blooming 
tunnel for, then ? ” said the man. 

“Don’t you be so cross,” said Phyllis, kindly. 

“ We haven’t done anything wrong except 
coming and waking you up, and that was right, 
as it happens.” 



Then Peter told how the boy came to be in the 

“Well,” said the man, “I don’t see as I can do 
anything. I can’t leave the box.” 

“ You might tell us where to go after some one 
who isn’t in a box, though,” said Phyllis. 

“ There’s Brigden’s farm over yonder — where you 
see the smoke a-coming up through the trees,” said 
the man, more and more grumpy, as Phyllis noticed. 

“ Well — good-by, then,” said Peter. 

But the man said wait a minute. He put his 
hand in his pocket and brought out some money 
— a lot of pennies and one or two shillings and 
sixpences and half-a-crown. He picked out two 
shillings and held them out. 

“ Here,” he said. “ I’ll give you this to hold 
your tongues about what’s taken place to-day.” 

There was a short unpleasant pause. Then : — 

“You are a nasty man, though, aren’t you?” 
said Phyllis. 

Peter took a step forward and knocked the- 
man’s hand up, so that the shillings leapt out of it 
and rolled on the floor. 

“ If anything could make me sneak, that 
would!” he said. “Come, Phil,” and marched 
out of the signal-box with flaming cheeks. 



Phyllis hesitated. Then she took the hand, still 
held out stupidly, that the shillings had been in. 

“ I forgive you,” she said, “ even if Peter doesn’t. 
You’re not in your proper senses, or you’d never 
have done that. I know want of sleep sends 
people mad. Mother told me. I hope your little 
boy will soon be better, and — ” 

“ Come on, Phil,” cried Peter, angrily. 

“I give you my sacred honour-word we’ll never 
tell any one. Kiss and be friends,” said Phyllis, 
feeling how noble it was of her to try to make up 
a quarrel in which she was not to blame. 

The signalman stooped and kissed her. 

“ I do believe I’m a bit off my head, Sissy,” he 
said. “ Now run along home to Mother. I didn’t 
mean to put you about — there.” 

So Phil left the hot signal-box and followed 
Peter across the fields to the farm. 

When the farm men, led by Peter and Phyllis 
and carrying a hurdle covered with horse-cloths, 
reached the manhole in the tunnel, Bobbie was 
fast asleep and so was Jim. Worn out with the 
pain, the Doctor said afterwards. 

“ Where does he live ? ” the bailiff from the 
farm asked, when Jim had been lifted on to the 



iC In Northumberland,” answered Bobbie. 

“ I’m at school at Maidbridge,” said Jim. “ I 
suppose I’ve got to get back there, somehow.” 

“ Seems to me the Doctor ought to have a look 
in first,” said the bailiff. 

“ Oh, bring him up to our house,” said Bobbie. 
“ It’s only a little way by the road. I’m sure 
Mother would say we ought to.” 

“ Will your Ma like you bringing home strangers 
with broken legs ? ” 

“She took the poor Russian home herself,” said 
Bobbie. “ I know she’d say we ought.” 

“All right,” said the bailiff, “you ought to know 
what your Ma ’ud like. I wouldn’t take it upon 
me to fetch him up to our place without I asked 
the Missus first, and they call me the Master, too.” 

“ Are you sure your Mother won’t mind ? ” 
whispered Jim. 

“ Certain,” said Bobbie. 

“ Then we’re to take him up to Three Chim- 
neys ? ” said the bailiff. 

“ Of course,” said Peter. 

« Then my lad shall nip up to Doctor’s on 
his bike, and tell him to come down there. Now, 
lads, lift him quiet and steady. One, two, three ! ” 




Thus it happened that Mother, writing away 
for dear life at a story about a Duchess, a design- 
ing villain, a secret passage, and a missing will, 
dropped her pen as her work-room door burst open, 
and turned to see Bobbie hatless and red with 

“ Oh, Mother,” she cried, “do come down. We 
found a hound in a red jersey in the tunnel, and he’s 
broken his leg and they’re bringing him home.” 

“ They ought to take him to the vet,” said 
Mother, with a worried frown ; “ I really can't have 
a lame dog here.” 

“ H e’s not a dog, really — he’s a boy,” said 
Bobbie, between laughing and choking. 

“ Then he ought to be taken home to his 

“ His mother’s dead,” said Bobbie, “ and his 
father’s in Northumberland. Oh, Mother, you will 
be nice to him ? I told him I was sure you’d want 
us to bring him home. You always want to help 

Mother smiled, but she sighed, too. It is nice 
that your children should believe you willing to 
open house and heart to any and every one who 
needs help. But it’s rather embarrassing some 
times, too, when they act on their belief. 


“ Oh, well,” said Mother, “ we must make the 
best of it.” 

When Jim was carried in, dreadfully white and 
with set lips whose red had faded to a horrid 
bluey violet colour, Mother said : — 

“ I am glad you brought him here. Now, Jim, 
let’s get you comfortable in bed before the Doctor 
comes ! ” 

And Jim, looking at her kind eyes, felt a little, 
warm, comforting flush of new courage. 

“ It’ll hurt rather, won’t it ? ” he said. “ I don’t 
mean to be a coward. You won’t think I’m a 
coward if I faint again, will you ? I really and 
truly don’t do it on purpose. And I do hate to 
give you all this trouble.” 

“ Don’t you worry,” said Mother ; “ it’s you that 
have the trouble, you poor dear — not us.” 

And she kissed him just as if he had been Peter. 
“ We love to have you here — don’t we, Bobby ? ” 

“ Yes,” said Bobby, — and she saw by her 
Mother’s face how right she had been to bring 
home the wounded hound in the red jersey. 



Mother did not get back to her writing all that 
day, for the red-jerseyed hound whom the children 
had brought to Three Chimneys had to be put to 
bed. And then the Doctor came, and hurt him 
most horribly. Mother was with him all through 
it, and that made it a little better than it would 
have been, but “ bad was the best,” as Mrs.Viney 

The children sat in the parlour downstairs and 
heard the sound of the Doctor’s boots going back- 
wards and forwards over the bedroom floor. And 
once or twice there was a groan. 

“ It’s horrible,” said Bobbie. “ Oh, I wish Dr. 
Forrest would make haste. Oh, poor Jim ! ” 

“ It is horrible,” said Peter, “ but it’s very excit- 
ing. I wish Doctors weren’t so stuck-up about 
who they’ll have in the room when they’re doing 
things. I should most awfully like to see a leg 
set. I believe the bones crunch like anything.” 

“ Don’t!” said the two girls at once. 




“ Rubbish ! ” said Peter. “ How are you going 
to be Red Cross Nurses, like you were talking of 
coming home, if you can’t even stand hearing me 
say about bones crunching? You’d have to hear 
them crunch on the field of battle — and be steeped 
in gore up to the elbows as likely as not, and — ” 

“ Stop it ! ” cried Bobbie, with a white face ; 
“ you don’t know how funny you’re making me 

“ Me, too,” said Phyllis, whose face was pink. 

“ Cowards ! ” said Peter. 

“ I’m not,” said Bobbie. “ I helped mother with 
your rake-wounded foot, and so did Phil — you 
know we did.” 

“ Well, then ! ” said Peter. “ Now look here. 
It would be a jolly good thing for you if I were 
to talk to you every day for half an hour about 
broken bones and people’s insides, so as to get 
you used to it.” 

A chair was moved above. 

“ Listen,” said Peter, “that’s the bone crunch- 

“ I do wish you wouldn’t,” said Phyllis. 
“Bobbie doesn’t like it.” 

“ I’ll tell you what they do,” said P eter. I 
can’t think what made him so horrid. Perhaps 



it was because he had been so very nice and 
kind all the earlier part of the day, and now 
he had to have a change. This is called reac- 
tion. One notices it now and then in one’s self. 
Sometimes when one has been extra good for 
a longer time than usual, one is suddenly attacked 
by a violent fit of not being good at all. i “I’ll 
tell you what they do,” said Peter ; “ they strap 
the broken man down so that he can’t resist or 
interfere with their doctorish designs, and then 
some one holds his head, and some one holds his 
leg — the broken one, and pulls it till the bones 
fit in — with a crunch, mind you ! Then they 
strap it up and — let’s play at bone-setting ! ” 

“ Oh, no ! ” said Phyllis. 

But Bobbie said suddenly : “ All right — let's ! 
I’ll be the Doctor, and Phil can be the nurse. 
You can be the broken bones ; we can get at your 
legs more easily, because you don’t wear petticoats.” 

“ I’ll get the splints and bandages,” said 
Peter ; “ you get the couch of suffering ready.” 

The ropes that had tied up the boxes that 
had come from home were all in a wooden 
packing-case in the cellar. When Peter brought 
in a trailing tangle of them, and two boards 
for splints, Phyllis was excitedly giggling. 



“ Now, then,” he said, and lay down on the 
settle, groaning most grievously. 

“ Not so loud ! ” said Bobbie, beginning to wind 
the ropes round him and the settle. “You pull, 

“Not so tight,” moaned Peter. “You’ll break 
my other leg.” 

Bobbie worked on in silence, winding more and 
more rope round him. 

“ That’s enough,” said Peter. « I can’t move at 
all. Oh, my poor leg ! ” He groaned again. 

“ Sure you can’t move ? ” asked Bobbie, in a 
rather strange tone. 

“ Quite sure,” replied Peter. “ Shall we play 
it’s bleeding freely or not ? ” he asked cheerfully. 

« You can play what you like,” said Bobbie, 
sternly, folding her arms and looking down at him 
where he lay all wound round and round with 
cord. “ Phil and I are going away. And we 
shan’t untie you till you promise never never to 
talk to us about blood and wounds unless we say 
you may. Come, Phil ! ” 

“ You beast,” said Peter, writhing. « I’ll never 
promise, never. I’ll yell, and Mother will come.” 

“ Do,” said Bobbie, “ and tell her why we tied 
you up ! Come on, Phil. No, I’m not a beast 



Peter. But you wouldn’t stop when we asked 
you and — ” 

“ Yah,” said Peter, “ it wasn’t even your own 
idea. You got it out of Stalky ! ” 

Bobbie and Phil, retiring in silent dignity, were 
met at the door by the Doctor. He came in 
rubbing his hands and looking pleased with him- 

“ Well,” he said, “ that job’s done. It’s a nice 
clean fracture, and it’ll go on all right, I’ve no 
doubt. Plucky young chap, too — hullo ! what’s 
all this ? ” 

His eye had fallen on Peter who lay mousy-still 
in his bonds on the settle. 

“ Playing at prisoners, eh ? ” he said ; but his 
eyebrows had gone up a little. Somehow he had 
not thought that Bobbie would be playing while 
in the room above some one was having a broken 
bone set. 

“ Oh, no ! ” said Bobbie, “ not at prisoners. We 
were playing at setting bones. Peter’s the broken 
boner, and I was the doctor.” 

“ I was the nurse,” put in Phyllis, cheerfully. 

The Doctor frowned. 

“ Then I must say,” he said, and he said it 
rather sternly, “ that it’s a very heartless game. 



Haven’t you enough imagination even to faintly 
picture what’s been going on upstairs ? That 
poor chap, with the drops of sweat on his fore- 
head, and biting his lips so as not to cry out, 
and every touch on his leg agony and — ” 

“ You ought to be tied up,” said Phyllis ; “ you’re 
as bad as — ” 

“ Hush,” said Bobbie ; “ Pm sorry, but we weren’t 
heartless, really.” 

“ I was, I suppose,” said Peter, crossly. “ All 
right, Bobbie, don’t you go on being noble and 
screening me, because I jolly well won’t have 
it. It was only that I kept on talking about 
blood and wounds. I wanted to train them for 
Red Cross Nurses. And I wouldn’t stop when 
they asked me.” 

“ Well,” said Dr. Forrest, sitting down. 

“Well — then I said, ‘Let’s play at setting 
bones.’ It was all rot. I knew Bobbie wouldn’t. 
I only said it to tease her. And then when she 
said ‘ yes,’ of course I had to go through with 
it. And they tied me up. They got it out 
of Stalky. And I think it’s a beastly shame.” 

He managed to writhe over and hide his face 
against the wooden back of the settle. 

“ I didn’t think that any one would know but 



us,” said Bobbie, indignantly answering Peter’s 
unspoken reproach. “ I never thought of your 
coming in. And hearing about blood and wounds 
does really make me feel most awfully funny. It 
was only a joke our tying him up. Let me untie 
you, Pete.” 

“ I don’t care if you never untie me,” said Peter ; 
“and if that’s your idea of a joke — ” 

“ If I were you,” said the Doctor, though really 
he did not quite know what to say, “ I should 
be untied before your Mother comes down. You 
don’t want to worry her, just now, do you ? ” 

“ I don’t promise anything about not saying 
about wounds, mind,” said Peter, in very surly 
tones, as Bobbie and Phyllis began to untie the 

“ I’m very sorry, Pete,” Bobbie whispered, lean- 
ing close to him as she fumbled with the big knot 
under the settle ; “ but if you only knew how sick 
you made me feel.” 

“ You’ve made me feel pretty sick, I can tell you,” 
Peter rejoined. Then he shook off the loose cords, 
and stood up. 

“ I looked in,” said Dr. Forrest, “ to see if one of 
you would come along to the surgery. There are 
some things that your Mother will want at once, 


and I’ve given my man a day off to go and see the 
circus ; will you come, Peter ? ” 

Peter went without a word or a look to his 

The two walked in silence up to the gate that 
led from the Three Chimneys field to the road. 
Then Peter said : — 

“ Let me carry your bag. I say, it is heavy — 
what’s in it ? 

“ Oh, knives and lancets and different instru 
ments for hurting people. And the ether bottle. 
I had to give him ether, you know — the agony 
was so intense.” 

Peter was silent. 

“ Tell me all about how you found that chap,” 
said Dr. Forrest. 

Peter told. And then Dr. Forrest told him 
stories of brave rescues ; he was a most interest- 
ing man to talk to, as Peter had often remarked. 

Then in the surgery Peter had a better chance 
than he had ever had of examining the Doctor’s bal- 
ance, and his microscope, and his scales and meas- 
uring glasses. When all the things were ready that 
Peter was to take back, the Doctor said suddenly : — 

“ You’ll excuse my shoving my oar in, won’t you ? 
But I should like to say something to you.” 



“ Now for a rowing,” thought Peter, who had 
been wondering how it was that he had escaped 

“ Something scientific,” added the Doctor. 

“Yes,” said Peter, fiddling with the fossil am- 
monite that the Doctor used for a paper-weight. 

“Well,” said the Doctor, “you know men have 
to do the work of the world and not be afraid of 
anything — so they have to be hardy and brave. 
But women have to take care of their babies and 
cuddle them and nurse them and be very patient 
and gentle.” 

“ Yes,” said Peter, wondering what was coming 

“Well, then, you see. Boys and girls are only 
little men and women. And we are much harder 
and hardier than they are — ” (Peter liked the “we.” 
Perhaps the Doctor had known he would.) — “ and 
much stronger, and things that hurt them don’t 
hurt us. You know you mustn’t hit a girl — ” 

“ I should think not, indeed,” muttered Peter, 

“ Not even if she’s your own sister. That’s be- 
cause girls are so much softer and weaker than 
we are; they have to be, you know,” he added, 
“because if they weren’t, it wouldn’t be nice for 



the babies. And that’s why all the animals are 
so good to the Mother animals. They never fight 
them, you know.” 

“ I know,” said Peter, interested ; “ two buck 
rabbits will fight all day if you let them, but they 
won’t hurt a doe.” 

u No ; and quite wild beasts — lions and ele- 
phants — they’re immensely gentle with the female 
beasts. And we’ve got to be, too.” 

“ I see,” said Peter. 

“ And their hearts are soft, too,” the Doctor went 
on, “ and things that we shouldn’t think anything 
of hurt them dreadfully. So that a man has to be 
very careful, not only of his fists, but of his words. 
They’re awfully brave, you know,” he went on. 
“ Think of Bobbie waiting alone in the tunnel with 
that poor chap. It’s an odd thing — the softer 
and more easily hurt a woman is the better she 
can screw herself up to do what has to be done. 
I’ve seen some brave women — Your Mother’s 
one,” he ended abruptly. 

“ Yes,” said Peter. 

“Well, that’s all. Excuse my mentioning it. 
But nobody knows everything without being told. 
And you see what I mean, don’t you ? ” 

“ Yes,” said Peter. “ I’m sorry. There ! ” 



“ Of course you are ! People always are — 
directly they understand. Every one ought to be 
taught these scientific facts. So long ! ” 

They shook hands heartily. When Peter came 
home, his sisters looked at him doubtfully. 

“ It’s Pax,” said Peter, dumping down the basket 
on the table. “ Dr. Forrest has been talking scien- 
tific to me. No, it’s no use my telling you what 
he said ; you wouldn’t understand. But it all 
comes to you girls being poor, soft, weak, frightened 
things like rabbits, so us men have just got to put 
up with them. He said you were female beasts. 
Shall I take this up to Mother, or will you ? ” 

“ I know what boys are,” said Phyllis, with flam- 
ing cheeks ; “ they’re just the nastiest, rudest — ” 

“ They’re very brave,” said Bobbie, “ some- 

“ Ah, you mean the chap upstairs ? I see. Go 
ahead, Phil — I shall put up with you whatever 
you say because you’re a poor, weak, frightened, 
soft — ” 

“ Not if I pull your hair you won’t,” said Phyllis, 
springing at him. 

“ He said 6 Pax, ’” said Bobbie, pulling her away. 
“ Don’t you see,” she whispered as Peter picked up 
the basket and stalked out with it, “he’s sorry, 


really, only he won’t say so? Let’s say we’re 

“ It’s so goody goody,” said Phyllis, doubtfully ; 
“ he said we were female beasts, and soft and 
frightened — ” 

“ Then let’s show him we’re not frightened of 
him thinking us goody goody,” said Bobbie ; “ and 
we’re not any more beasts than he is.” 

And when Peter came back, still with his chin 
in the air, Bobbie said : — 

“ We’re sorry we tied you up, Pete.” 

“ I thought you would be,” said Peter, very stiff 
and superior. 

This was hard to bear. But — 

“ Well, so we are,” said Bobbie. “ Now let hon- 
our be satisfied on both sides.” 

“ I did call it Pax,” said Peter, in an injured 

“ Then let it be Pax,” said Bobbie. “ Come on, 
Phil, let’s get the tea. Pete, you might lay the 

“ I say,” said Phyllis, when peace was really 
restored, which was not till they were washing up 
the cups after tea, “ Dr. Forrest didn’t really say 
we were female beasts, did he ? ” 

“Yes,” said Peter, firmly, “but I think he meant 
we men were wild beasts, too.” 



“ How funny of him ! ” said Phyllis, breaking a 


“ May I come in, Mother ? ” Peter was at the 
door of Mother’s writing room, where Mother sat 
at her table with two candles in front of her. 
Their flames looked orange and violet against the 
clear gray blue of the sky where already a few stars 
were twinkling. 

“Yes, dear,” said Mother, absently, “anything 
wrong ? ” She wrote a few more words and then 
laid down her pen and began to fold up what she 
had written. “ I was just writing to Jim’s grand- 
father. He lives near here, you know.” 

“ Yes, you said so at tea. That’s what I want 
to say. Must you write to him, Mother? Couldn’t 
we keep Jim, and not say anything to his people 
till he’s well ? It would be such a surprise for 

“ Well, yes,” said Mother, laughing, “ I think it 

“ You see,” Peter went on. “ Of course the girls 
are all right and all that — Pm not saying anything 
against them. But I should like it if I had an- 
other chap to talk to sometimes.” 

“Yes,” said Mother, “I know it’s dull for you, 



dear. But I can’t help it. Next year perhaps I can 
send you to school — you’d like that, wouldn’t 
you ? ” 

“ I do miss the other chaps, rather,” Peter con- 
fessed ; « but if Jim could stay after his leg was 
well, we could have awful larks.” 

“ I’ve no doubt of it,” said Mother. « Well — 
perhaps he could, but you know, dear, we’re not 
rich. I can’t afford to get him everything he’ll 
want. And he must have a nurse.” 

“Can’t you nurse him, Mother? You do nurse 
people so beautifully.” 

“ That’s a pretty compliment, Pete — but I can’t 
do nursing and my writing as well. That’s the 
worst of it.” 

“ Then you must send the letter to his grand- 
father ? ” 

“ Of course — and to his schoolmaster, too. 
We telegraphed to them both, but I must write as 
well. They’ll be most dreadfully anxious.” 

“ I say, Mother, why can’t his grandfather 
pay for a nurse ? ” Peter suggested. “ That would 
be ripping. I expect the old boy’s rolling in 
money. Grandfathers in books always are.” 

“ Well, this one isn’t in a book,” said Mother, 
“ so we mustn’t expect him to roll much.” 



“I say,” said Peter, musingly, “wouldn’t it be 
jolly if we all were in a book, and you were writ- 
ing it ? Then you could make all sorts of jolly 
things happen, and make Jim’s legs get well at 
once and be all right to-morrow, and Father come 
home soon and — ” 

“ Do you miss your Father very much ? ” Mother 
asked, rather coldly, Peter thought. 

“ Awfully,” said Peter, briefly. 

Mother was enveloping and addressing the 
second letter. 

“You see,” Peter went on slowly, “you see it’s 
not only him being Father, but now he’s away 
there’s no other man in the house but me — that’s 
why I want Jim to stay so frightfully much. 
Wouldn’t you like to be writing that book with 
us all in it, Mother, and make Daddy come home 
soon ? ” 

Peter’s Mother put her arm round him suddenly, 
and hugged him in silence for a minute. Then 
she said : — 

« Don’t you think it’s rather nice to think that 
we’re in a book that God’s writing ? If I were 
writing the book, I might make mistakes. But 
God knows how to make the story end just right 
— in the way that’s best for us.” 


“ Do you really believe that, Mother ? ” Peter 
asked quietly. 

“Yes,” she said, “I do believe it — almost 
alwaj^s — except when I’m so sad that I can’t 
believe anything. But even when I can’t believe 
it, I know it’s true — and I try to believe it. You 
don’t know how I try, Peter. Now take the letters 
to the post, and don’t let’s be sad any more. 
Courage, courage ! That’s the finest of all the 
virtues! I dare say Jim will be here for two or 
three weeks yet.” 

For what w T as left of the evening Peter was so 
angelic that Bobbie feared he was going to be ill. 
She was quite relieved in the morning to find him 
plaiting Phyllis’s hair on the back of her chair in 
quite his old manner. 

It was soon after breakfast that a knock came 
at the door. The children were hard at work 
cleaning the brass candlesticks in honour of 
Jim’s visit. 

“ That’ll be the Doctor,” said Mother ; “ I’ll go. 
Shut the kitchen door — you’re not fit to be 

But it wasn’t the Doctor. They knew that by 
the voice and by the sound of the boots that went 
upstairs. They did not recognise the sound of the 



boots, but every one was certain that it had heard 
the voice before. 

There was a longish interval. The boots and 
the voice did not come down again. 

“ Who can it possibly be ? ” they kept on ask- 
ing themselves and each other. 

“ Perhaps,” said Peter at last, “ Dr. Forrest has 
been attacked by highwaymen and left for dead, 
and this is the man he’s telegraphed for to take 
his place. Mrs. Viney said he had a local tenant 
to do his work when he went for a holiday, didn’t 
you, Mrs. Viney ? ” 

“ I did so, my dear,” said Mrs. Viney from the 
back kitchen. 

“ He’s fallen down in a fit, more likely,” said 
Phyllis, “all human aid despaired of. And this 
is his man come to break the news to Mother.” 

“ Nonsense ! ” said Peter, briskly ; “ Mother 

wouldn’t have taken the man up into Jim’s 
bedroom. Why should she? Listen — the door’s 
opening. Now they’ll come down. I’ll open 
the door a crack.” 

He did. 

“ It’s not listening,” he replied indignantly to 
Bobbie’s scandalised remarks ; “ nobody in their 
senses would talk sectets on the stairs. And 


Mother can’t have secrets to talk with Dr. Forrest’s 
stable-man — and you said it was him.” 

“ Bobbie,” called Mother’s voice. 

They opened the kitchen door, and Mother 
leaned over the stair railing. 

“ Jim’s grandfather has come,” she said ; “ wash 
your hands and faces and then you can see him. 
He wants to see you ! ” The bedroom door shut 

“ There now ! ” said Peter ; “ fancy us not even 
thinking of that ! Let’s have some hot water, 
Mrs. Viney. I’m as black as your hat.” 

The three were indeed dirty, for the stuff you 
clean brass candlesticks with is very far from 
cleaning to the cleaner. 

They were still busy with soap and flannel when 
they heard the boots and the voice come down the 
stairs and go into the dining room. And when 
they were clean, though still damp, — because it 
takes such a long time to dry your hands properly, 
and they were very impatient to see the grand- 
father, — they filed into the dining room. 

Mother was sitting in the window-seat, and in 
the leather-covered arm-chair that Father always 
used to sit in at the other house sat — 




“ Well, I never did,” said Peter, even before he 
said, “ How do you do ? ” He was, as he explained 
afterwards, too surprised even to remember that 
there was such a thing as politeness — much less 
to practise it. 

“ IPs our own old gentleman ! ” said Phyllis. 

“ Oh, it’s you ! ” said Bobbie. And then they 
remembered themselves and their manners and 
said, “ How do you do ? ” very nicely. 

“ This is Jim’s grandfather, Mr. ” said 

Mother, naming the old gentleman’s name. 

“ How splendid ! ” said Peter ; « that’s just 
exactly like a book, isn’t it, Mother ? ” 

“ It is, rather,” said Mother, smiling ; “ things 
do happen in real life that are rather like books, 

“ I am so awfully glad it is you,” said Phyllis, 
“ when you think of the tons of old gentlemen 
there are in the world — it might have been 
almost any one.” 

“ I say, though,” said Peter, “ you’re not going 
to take Jim away, though, are you?” 

“ Not at present,” said the old gentleman. 
“ Your Mother has most kindly consented to let 
him stay here. I thought of sending a nurse 
but your Mother is good enough to say that she 
will nurse him herself.” 



“ But what about her writing ? ” said Peter, be- 
fore any one could stop him. “ There won’t be any- 
thing for him to eat if Mother doesn’t write.” 

“ That’s all right,” said Mother, hastily. 

The old gentleman looked very kindly at 

“ I see,” he said, “ you trust your children, and 
confide in them.” 

“Of course,” said Mother. 

“ Then I may tell them of our little arrange- 
ment,” he said. “ Your Mother, my dears, has 
consented to give up writing for a little while and 
to become Matron of my Hospital.” 

“ Oh ! ” said Phyllis, blankly ; “ and shall we have 
to go away from Three Chimneys and the Railway 
and everything ? ” 

“ No, no, darling,” said Mother, hurriedly. 

“ The Hospital is called Three Chimneys Hospi- 
tal,” said the old gentleman, “and my unlucky 
Jim’s the only patient, and I hope he’ll continue 
to be so. Your Mother will be Matron, and there’ll 
be a hospital staff for a housemaid and a cook — 
till Jim’s well.” 

“ And then will Mother go on writing again ? ” 
asked Peter. 

“ We shall see,” said the old gentleman, with a 



slight swift glance at Bobbie ; “ perhaps something 
nice may happen and she won’t have to.” 

“ I love my writing,” said Mother, very quickly. 

“ I know,” said the old gentleman ; “ don’t be 
afraid that I’m going to try to interfere. But one 
never knows. Very wonderful and beautiful 
things do happen, don’t they ? And we live most 
of our lives in the hope of them. I may come 
again to see the boy ? ” 

“ Surely,” said Mother, “ and I don’t know how 
to thank you for making it possible for me to nurse 
him. Dear boy.” 

“ He kept calling Mother, Mother, in the night,” 
said Phyllis. “ I woke up twice and heard 

“ He didn’t mean me,” said Mother, in a low 
voice to the old gentleman ; « that’s why I wanted 
so much to keep him.” 

The old gentlemen rose. 

“ I’m so glad,” said Peter, “ that you’re going to 
keep him, Mother.” 

“ Take care of your Mother, my dears,” said the 
old gentleman. “ She’s a woman in a million.” 

“ Yes, isn’t she ? ” whispered Bobbie. 

“ God bless her,” said the old gentleman, taking 
both Mother’s hands, “ God bless her ! Ay, and 



she shall be blessed. Dear me, where’s my hat ? 
Will Bobbie come with me to the gate ? ” 

At the gate he stopped and said : — 

“You’re a good child, my dear — I got your 
letter. But it wasn’t needed. When I read about 
your Father’s case in the papers at the time, I 
had my doubts. And ever since I’ve known who 
you were, I’ve been trying to find out things. I 
haven’t done very much yet. But I have hopes, 
my dear — I have hopes.” 

“ Oh ! ” said Bobbie, choking a little. 

“ Yes — I may say great hopes. But keep your 
secret a little longer. Wouldn’t do to upset your 
Mother with a false hope, would it ? ” 

“ Oh, but it isn’t false ! ” said Bobbie ; “ I know 
you can do it. I knew you could when I wrote. 
It isn’t a false hope, is it ? ” 

« No,” he said, “ I don’t think it’s a false hope, 
or I wouldn’t have told you. And I think you 
deserve to be told that there is a hope.” 

“ And you don’t think Father did it, do you ? 
Oh, say you don’t think he did.” 

“ My dear,” he said, “ I’m perfectly certain he 

If it was a false hope, it was none the less a 
very radiant one that lay warm at Bobbie’s heart, 



and through the days that followed lighted her 
little face as a Japanese lantern is lighted by the 
candle within. 



Life at the Three Chimneys was never quite 
the same again after the old gentleman came to 
see his grandson. Although they now knew his 
name, the children never spoke of him by it, — at 
any rate, when they were by themselves. To 
them he was always the old gentleman, and I 
think he had better be the old gentleman to us, 
too. It wouldn’t make him seem any more real 
to you, would it, if I were to tell you that his 
name was Snooks or Jenkins (which it wasn’t)? — 
and, after all, I must be allowed to keep one secret. 
It’s the only one ; I have told you everything else, 
except what I am going to tell you in this chapter, 
which is the last. At least, of course I haven’t 
told you everything. If I were to do that, the book 
would never come to an end, and that would be 
a pity, wouldn’t it ? 

Well, as I was saying, life at Three Chimneys 
was never quite the same again. The cook and 
the housemaid were very nice (I don’t mind telling 




you their names — they were Clara and Ethelwyn), 
but they did not seem to want Mrs. Viney, and 
they told Mother that she was an old muddler. 
So Mrs. Viney only came two days a week to do 
washing and ironing. Then Clara and Ethelwyn 
said they could do the work all right if they 
weren’t interfered with, and that meant that the 
children no longer got the tea and cleared it away 
and washed up the tea-things and dusted the rooms. 

This would have left quite a blank in their lives, 
although they had often pretended to themselves 
and to each other that they hated housework. 
But now that Mother had no writing and no house- 
work to do, she had time for lessons. And lessons 
the children had to do. However nice the person 
who is teaching you may be, lessons are lessons all 
the world over, and at their best are worse fun 
than peeling potatoes or lighting a fire. 

On the other hand, if Mother now had time for 
lessons, she also had time for play, and to make 
up little rhymes for the children as she used to do. 
She had not had much time for rhymes since she 
came to Three Chimmeys. 

There was one very odd thing about these les- 
sons. Whatever the children were doing, they 
always wanted to be doing something else. When 



Peter was doing his Latin, he thought it would be 
nice to be learning History like Bobbie. Bobbie 
would have preferred Arithmetic, which was what 
Phyllis happened to be doing, and Phyllis of course 
thought Latin much the most interesting kind of 
lesson. And so on. 

So, one day, when they sat down to lessons, each 
of them found a little rhyme at its place. I put 
the rhymes in to shew you that their Mother really 
did understand a little how children feel about 
things, and also the kind of words they use, which 
is the case with very very few grown-up people. 
I suppose most grown-ups have very bad memories, 
and have forgotten how they felt when they were 
little. Of course the verses are supposed to be 
spoken by the children. 


I once thought Caesar easy pap — 

How very soft I must have been ! 

When they start Caesar with a chap 
He little knows what that will mean. 

Oh, verbs are silly stupid things. 

I’d rather learn the dates of kings ! 


The worst of all my lesson things 
Is learning who succeeded who 



In all the rows of queens and kings, 

With dates to everything they do : 

With dates enough to make you sick ; — 

I wish it was Arithmetic ! 


Such pounds and pounds of apples fill 

My slate — what is the price you’d spend ? 

You scratch the figures out until 
You cry upon the dividend. 

I’d break the slate and scream for joy 
If I did Latin like a boy ! 

This kind of thing, of course, made lessons much 
jollier. It is something to know that the person 
who is teaching you sees that it is not all plain 
sailing for you, does not think that it is just your 
stupidness that makes you not know your lessons 
till you’ve learned them ! 

Then as Jim’s leg got better it was very pleasant 
to go up and sit with him and hear tales about his 
school life and the other boys. There was one 
boy, named Parr, of whom Jim seemed to have 
formed the lowest possible opinion, and another 
boy named Wigsby Minor, for whose views Jim 
had a great respect. Also there were three broth- 
ers named Paley, and the youngest was called 
Paley Terts, and was much given to fighting. 

Peter drank in all this with deep joy, and 



Mother seemed to have listened with some in- 
terest, for one day she gave Jim a sheet of paper 
on which she had written a rhyme about Parr, 
bringing in Paley and Wigsby by name in a most 
wonderful way, as well as all the reasons Jim had 
for not liking Parr, and Wigsby’s wise opinion on 
the matter. Jim was immensely pleased. He had 
never had a rhyme written expressly for him be- 
fore. He read it till he knew it by heart and then 
he sent it to Wigsby, who liked it almost as much 
as Jim did. Perhaps you may like it, too. 


His name is Parr : he says that he 

Is given bread and milk for tea. 

He says his father killed a bear. 

He says his mother cuts his hair. 

He wears goloshes when it’s wet. 

Fve heard his people call him “ Pet ” ! 

He has no proper sense of shame ; 

He told the chaps his Christian name. 

He cannot wicket-keep at all, 

He’s frightened of a cricket ball. 

He reads, indoors, for hours and hours. 

He knows the names of beastly flowers. 

He says his French just like Mossoo — 

A beastly stuck-up thing to do — 

He won’t keep cave , shirks his turn 

And says he came to school to learn ! 



He won’t play football, says it hurts ; 

He wouldn’t fight with Paley Terts ; 

He couldn’t whistle if he tried, 

And when we laughed at him he cried ! 

Now, Wigsby Minor says that Parr 
Is only like all new boys are. 

I know when I first came to school 
I wasn’t such a jolly fool ! 

Jim could not understand how Mother could have 
been clever enough to do it. To the others it 
seemed nice, but natural. You see they had 
always been used to having a mother who could 
write verses just like the way people talk, even to 
the shocking expression at the end of the rhyme, 
which was Jim’s very own. 

Jim taught Peter to play chess and draughts 
and dominoes, and altogether it was a nice quiet 

Only Jim’s leg got better and better, and a 
general feeling began to spring up among Bobbie, 
Peter, and Phyllis that something ought to be done 
to amuse him ; not just games, but something 
really handsome. But it was extraordinarily 
difficult to think of anything. 

66 It’s no good,” said Peter, when all of them 
had thought and thought till their heads felt quite 



heavy and swollen ; 44 if we can’t think of anything 
to amuse him, we just can’t, and there’s an end of 
it. Perhaps something will just happen of its 
own accord that he’ll like.” 

44 Things do happen by themselves sometimes, 
without your making them,” said Phyllis, rather 
as though, usually, everything that happened in 
the world was her doing. 

44 1 wish something would happen,” said Bobbie, 
dreamily, 44 something wonderful.” 

And something wonderful did happen exactly 
four days after she had said this. I wish I could 
say it was three days after, because in fairy tales 
it is always three days after that things happen. 
But this is not a fairy story, and besides, it really 
was four and not three, and I am nothing if not 
strictly truthful. 

They seemed to be hardly Railway children at 
all in those days, and as the days went on each 
had an uneasy feeling about this which Phyllis 
expressed one day. 

44 1 wonder if the Railway misses us,” she said 
plaintively. 44 We never go to see it now.” 

44 It seems ungrateful,’ ’ said Bobbie; 44 we loved 
it so when we hadn’t any one else to play with.” 

44 Perks is always coming up to ask after Jim,” 



said Peter, “ and the signalman’s little boy is 
better. He told me so.” 

“ I didn’t mean the people,” explained Phyllis ; 
“ I meant the dear Railway itself.” 

“ The thing I don’t like,” said Bobbie, on this 
fourth day, which was a Tuesday, “ is our having 
stopped waving to the 9.15 and sending our love to 
Father by it.” 

“ Let’s begin again to-morrow,” said Phyllis. 
And they did. 

Somehow the change of everything that was 
made by having servants in the house and Mother 
not doing any writing, made the time seem ex- 
tremely long since that strange morning at the be- 
ginning of things, when they had got up so early 
and burnt the bottom out of the kettle and had 
apple pie for breakfast and first seen the Railway. 

It was September now, and the turf on the slope 
to the Railway was dry and crisp. Little long 
grass spikes stood up like bits of gold wire, frail 
blue harebells trembled on their tough, slender 
stalks, Gipsy roses opened wide and flat their lilac- 
coloured discs, and the golden stars of St. John’s 
Wort shone at the edges of the pool that lay half 
way to the Railway. Bobbie gathered a generous 
handful of the flowers and thought how pretty 



they would look lying on the green-and-pink 
blanket of silk-waste that now covered Jim’s poor 
broken leg. 

“ Hurry up,” said Peter, “ or we shall miss the 

9 . 15 !” 

“ I can’t hurry more than I am doing,” said 
Phyllis. “ Oh, bother it ! my bootlace has come 
undone again ! ” 

“ When you’re married,” said Peter, “ your boot- 
lace will come undone going up the church aisle, 
and your man that you’re going to get married to 
will tumble over it and smash his nose in on the 
ornamented pavement; and then you’ll say you 
won’t marry him, and you’ll have to be an old 

“ I shan’t,” said Phyllis. “ I’d much rather marry 
a man with his nose smashed in than not marry 

“ It would be horrid to marry a man with a 
smashed nose, all the same,” went on Bobbie. “ He 
wouldn’t be able to smell the flowers at the wed- 
ding. Wouldn’t that be awful ! ” 

“ Bother the flowers at the wedding ! ” cried 
Peter. “Look! the signal’s down. We must 
run ! ” 

They ran. And once more they waved their 



handkerchiefs, without at all minding whether the 
handkerchiefs were clean or not, to the 9.15. 

“ Take our love to Father ! ” cried Bobbie. And 
the others, too, shouted : — 

“ Take our love to Father ! ” 

The old gentleman waved from his first-class 
carriage window. Quite violently he waved. 
And there was nothing odd in that, for he always 
had waved. But what was really remarkable was 
that from every window handkerchiefs fluttered, 
newspapers signalled, hands waved wildly. The 
train swept by with a rustle and roar, the little 
pebbles jumped and danced under it as it passed, 
and the children were left looking at each other. 

“Well ! ” said Peter. 

“ Well ! ” said Bobbie. 

“ Well ! ” said Phyllis. 

“ Whatever on earth does that mean ? ” asked 
Peter, but he did not expect any answer. 

“ I don’t know,” said Bobbie. “ Perhaps the 
old gentleman told the people at his station to 
look out for us and wave. He knew we should 
like it ! ” 

Now, curiously enough, this was just what 
had happened. The old gentleman, who was 
very well known and respected at his particular 



station, had got there early that morning, and he 
had waited at the door where the young man 
stands holding the interesting machine that clips 
the tickets, and he had said something to every 
single passenger who passed through that door. 
And after nodding to what the old gentleman 
had said, — and the nods expressed every shade 
of surprise, interest, doubt, cheerful pleasure, and 
grumpy agreement, — each passenger had gone on 
to the platform and read one certain part of it. 
And when the passengers got into the train, they 
had told the other passengers who were already 
there what the old gentleman had said, and then 
the other passengers had also looked in their 
newspapers and seemed very astonished and, 
mostly, pleased. Then, when the train, passed 
the fence where the three children were, news- 
papers and hands and handkerchiefs were waved 
madly, till all that side of the train was fluttery 
with white like the pictures of the King’s Corona- 
tion in the biograph at Maskelyne and Cook’s. To 
the children it almost seemed as though the train 
itself was alive, and was at last responding to 
the love that they had given it so freely and so 

“ It is most extraordinary rum ! ” said Peter. 



“ Most stronery ! ” echoed Phyllis. 

But Bobbie said, “ Don’t you think the old 
gentleman’s waves seemed more significating than 
usual ? ” 

“ No,” said the others. 

“ I do,” said Bobbie. “ I thought he was trying 
to explain something to us with his newspaper.” 

“ Explain what ? ” asked Peter, not unnaturally. 

“/ don’t know,” Bobbie answered, “but I do 
feel most awfully funny. I feel just exactly as 
if something was going to happen.” 

“ What is going to happen,” said Peter, “ is that 
Phyllis’s stocking is going to come down.” 

This was but too true. The suspender had 
given way in the agitation of the waves to the 9.15. 
Bobbie’s handkerchief served as first aid to the 
injured, and they all went home. 

Lessons were more than usually difficult to 
Bobbie that day. Indeed, she disgraced herself so 
deeply over a quite simple sum about the division of 
48 pounds of meat and 36 pounds of bread among 
144 hungry children that Mother looked at her 

“ Don’t you feel quite well, dear ? ” she asked. 

“ I don’t know,” was Bobbie’s unexpected answer. 
“ I don’t know how I feel. It isn’t that I’m lazy. 



Mother, will you let me off lessons to-day ? I feel 
as if I wanted to be quite alone by myself.” 

“Yes, of course I’ll let you off,” said Mother; 
“ but — ” 

Bobbie dropped her slate. It cracked just 
across the little green mark that is so useful for 
drawing patterns round, and it was never the same 
slate again. Without waiting to pick it up she 
bolted. Mother caught her in the hall feeling 
blindly among the waterproofs and umbrellas for 
her garden hat. 

“ What is it, my sweetheart ? ” said Mother. 
“ You don’t feel ill, do you ? ” 

“ I don't know,” Bobbie answered, a little breath- 
less, “ but I want to be by myself and see if my 
head really is all silly and my inside all squirmy- 

“ Hadn’t you better lie down ? ” Mother said, 
stroking her hair back from her forehead. 

“ I’d be more alive in the garden, I think,” said 

But she could not stay in the garden. The 
hollyhocks and the asters and the late roses all 
seemed to be waiting for something to happen. It 
was one of those still shiny autumn days, when 
everything does seem to be waiting. 

Bobbie could not wait. 



“ I’ll go down to the station,” she said, “ and talk 
to Perks and ask about the signalman’s little boy.” 

So she went down. On the way she passed the 
old lady from the post-office, who gave her a kiss 
and a hug, but, rather to Bobbie’s surprise, no 
words except : — 

“ God bless you, love — ” and, after a pause, 
“ run along — do.” 

The draper’s boy, who had sometimes been a 
little less than civil and a little more than con- 
temptuous, now touched his cap, and uttered the 
remarkable words : — 

“ ’ Morning, Miss, I’m sure — ” 

The blacksmith, coming along with an open 
newspaper in his hand, was even more strange in 
his manner. He grinned broadly, though, as a rule, 
he was a man not given to smiles, and waved the 
newspaper long before he came up to her. And as 
he passed her, he said, in answer to her “ Good 
morning” : — 

“ Good morning to you, Missie, and many of 
them ! I wish you joy, that I do ! ” 

“ Oh ! ” said Bobbie to herself, and her heart 
quickened its beats, “ something is going to happen ! 
I know it is — every one is so odd, like people are 
in dreams.” 



The Station Master wrung her hand warmly. 
In fact he worked it up and down like a pump- 
handle. But he gave her no reason for this unusu- 
ally enthusiastic greeting. He only said : — 

“ The 11.54’s a bit late, Miss — the extra 
luggage this holiday time,” and went away very 
quickly into that inner Temple of his into which 
even Bobbie dared not follow him. 

Perks was not to be seen, and Bobbie shared 
the solitude of the platform with the Station Cat. 
This tortoise-shell lady, usually of a retiring dispo- 
sition, came to-day to rub herself against the 
brown stockings of Bobbie with arched back, 
waving tail, and reverberating purrs. 

“ Dear me ! ” said Bobbie, stooping to stroke 
her, “ how very kind everybody is to-day — even 
you, Pussy ! ” 

Perks did not appear until the 11.54 was sig- 
nalled, and then he, like everybody else that morn- 
ing, had a newspaper in his hand. 

“ Hullo ! ” he said, “ ’ere you are. Well, if 
this is the train, it’ll be smart work ! Well, God 
bless you, my dear ! I see it in the paper, and I 
don’t think I was ever so glad of anything in all 
my born ! ” He looked at Bobbie a moment and 
then said, “ One I must have, Miss, and no offence, 




I know, on a day like this ’ere ! ” and with that he 
kissed her, first on one cheek, and then on the 

“You ain’t offended, are you?” he asked anx- 
iously. “ I ain’t took too great a liberty ? On a 
day like this, you know — ” 

“No, no,” said Bobbie, “of course it’s not a 
liberty, dear Mr. Perks ; we love you quite as much 
as if you were an uncle of ours — but — on a day 
like what ? ” 

“ Like this ’ere ! ” said Perks. “ Don’t I tell you 
I see it in the paper ? ” 

“ Saw what in the paper ? ” asked Bobbie, but 
already the 11.64 was steaming into the station 
and the Station Master was looking at all the 
places where Perks was not and ought to have 

Bobbie was left standing alone, the Station Cat 
watching her from under the bench with friendly 
golden eyes. 

Of course you know already exactly what was 
going to happen. Bobbie was not so clever. She 
had the vague confused expectant feeling that 
comes to one’s heart in dreams. What her heart 
expected I can’t tell, — perhaps the very thing 
that you and I know was going to happen, — but 



her mind expected nothing ; it was almost blank, 
and felt nothing but tiredness and stupidness and 
an empty feeling like your body has when you 
have been a long walk and it is very far indeed 
past your proper dinner-time. 

Only three people got out of the 11.54. The 
first was a countryman with two baskety boxes 
full of live chickens who stuck their russet heads 
out anxiously through the wicker bars ; the second 
was Miss Peckitt, the grocer’s wife’s cousin, with a 
tin box and three brown paper parcels ; and the 
third — 

“ Oh ! my Daddy, my Daddy ! ” That scream 
went like a knife into the heart of every one in the 
train, and people put their heads out of the win- 
dows to see a tall pale man with lips set in a thin 
close line, and a little girl clinging to him with 
arms and legs, while his arms went tightly round 


“ I knew something wonderful was going to 
happen,” said Bobbie, as they went up the road, 
“ but I didn’t think it was going to be this. Oh, 
my Daddy, my Daddy ! ” 

“ Then didn’t Mother get my letter ? ” Father 



“ There weren’t any letters this morning. 
“ Oh ! Daddy ! it is really you, isn’t it ? ” 

The clasp of a hand she had not forgotten 
assured her that it was. 

“You must go in by yourself, Bobbie, and tell 
Mother quite quietly that it’s all right. They’ve 
caught the man who did it. Every one knows 
now that it wasn’t your Daddy.” 

“ 1 always knew it wasn’t,” said Bobbie. “ Me 
and Mother and our old gentleman.” 

“ Yes,” he said, “ it’s all his doing. Mother 
wrote and told me you had found out. And she 
told me what you’d been to her. My own little 
girl ! ” They stopped a minute then. 

And now I see them crossing the field. Bobbie 
goes into the house, trying to keep her eyes from 
speaking before her lips have found the right 
words to “ tell Mother quite quietly ” that the 
sorrow and the struggle and the parting are 
over and done, and that Father has come home. 

I see Father walking in the garden, waiting — 
waiting. He is looking at the flowers, and each 
flower is a miracle to eyes that all these months of 
Spring and Summer have seen only flag-stones and 
gravel and a little grudging grass. But his eyes 
keep turning towards the house. And presently 



he leaves the garden and goes to stand outside the 
nearest door. It is the back door, and across the 
yard the swallows are circling. They are getting 
ready to fly away from cold winds and keen frost 
to the land where it is always summer. They are 
the same swallows that the children built the little 
clay nests for. 

Now the housedoor opens. Bobbie’s voice 
calls : — 

“ Come in, Daddy, come in ! ” 

He goes in and the door is shut. I think we 
will not open the door or follow him. I think 
that just now we are not wanted there. I think 
it will be best for us to go quickly and quietly 
away. At the end of the field, among the thin gold 
spikes of grass and the harebells and Gipsy roses 
and St. John’s Wort, we may just take one last 
look, over our shoulders, at the white house where 
neither we nor any one else is wanted now. 




V ;• 




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